You’ve probably heard the phrase “fake news” as it relates to manipulating political opinions, but fake news is a problem that affects every industry. The internet has plenty of fake news pertaining to timeshare; some of it comes from confused timeshare owners who don’t know they’re spreading misinformation, and some of it is created intentionally by fraudulent companies. Regardless of the source, believing fake news can be a costly mistake for timeshare owners who want to sell.
It could be accurately said that the value of everything, even money itself, is a matter of perception; value is in the eye of the beholder. This is especially true when it comes to timeshare, since timeshare is quite literally an investment in future vacations. If you perceive a timeshare to represent 20 or 30 years of great hassle-free vacations, then the value to you is substantial. If you can’t or don’t take vacations, then the value of a timeshare to you is zero. Manipulating the perception of value is the primary goal of timeshare fake news. Unfortunately, when owners spread fake news the people who end up reading it are often those considering buying a timeshare; making fake news one of the biggest obstacles to the growth of the timeshare resale market. Here are three of the bigger fake timeshare news stories going around the web:
1. Selling Your Timeshare for a Fair Price is Impossible
Timeshare is not a monolithic structure; there are many types of ownerships, and countless factors that affect the desirability of any one timeshare property. The statement that “timeshares are impossible to sell” eliminates all nuances, and thus could not possibly apply to all timeshare properties. If there is demand for the property you want to sell, because your resort is still selling “new” properties similar to yours, then selling for a fair price should certainly be possible. Selling this type of timeshare requires two things: exposure to buyers who want what you are selling, and time.
Even in the case of legacy properties where no demand exists on the resale market, there is often still a way to “sell,” albeit an unconventional one. Recently timeshare owners at Gurney’s Resort, an aging legacy property in Montauk, were able to recombine their timeshare intervals and sell the entire resort to a real estate investment firm. Owners who participated in the final sale received over $11,000 per week!
2. You Can Cancel Your Timeshare Contract
One of the more insidious fake news stories out there is that you can cancel your timeshare contract, long after purchase, by hiring a cancellation company. When you buy a timeshare in the U.S. there is a cancellation window of 3 to 10 days, during which time you can cancel your timeshare purchase and receive a refund. If you bought a timeshare then you signed an acknowledgement of this cancellation window.
Binding contracts are a pillar of our economy, without which the wheels of commerce couldn’t run. Imagine how absurd it would be to try and “cancel” the purchase of the new car you bought 2 years ago by making the dealership take it back - your timeshare is no different. The good news is that there is no need to cancel your timeshare contract: For much less than the cost of a so-called cancellation attorney you can advertise your timeshare at a reasonable price until sold.
3. Timeshares Are a Bad Deal Compared to Discount Hotels
Like most other fake news, the idea that timeshares are universally a bad deal is overly-broad and doesn't apply in all circumstances. For some, shopping online for a hotel deal may in fact be preferable to owning a timeshare: If you are a couple traveling together perhaps a hotel room provides all the space you require, in which case owning a timeshare wouldn’t be a good value proposition. For a family of 5, however, the value proposition is completely different: Traveling with 3 kids means you’ll need two hotel rooms or a suite, and those low advertised prices for hotel rooms don’t usually apply to suites. Compared to the cost of a suite, owning a timeshare could indeed represent a good value; especially considering the benefits of a full kitchen for preparing family meals.
Additionally, reducing timeshare ownership to only a value proposition ignores one of the most compelling reasons to own one: consistency. Booking a discounted hotel room or suite online is a roll of the dice. Sometimes that “super deal” turns out great, and sometimes you end up sleeping next to the boiler room with a sweeping view of the interstate. Many of today’s timeshares are points-based multi-site plans that allow you to choose between many resorts inside of a club. The benefit to owners is that most resorts inside the club are about the same: If you liked the Bluegreen condo in Orlando, you’ll like the Bluegreen condo in Myrtle Beach. While the value of consistent quality accommodations on vacation is certainly subjective, it is not zero. For most timeshare owners this consistency adds more than enough value to make owning timeshare a good deal.
Use Trusted Sources and Common Sense to Avoid Fake News
Present and future timeshare owners can avoid falling for “fake news” by referring only to trusted sources; specifically your Resort Developer, ARDA (the American Resort Development Association), and ARDA member companies like Bay Tree Solutions that have agreed to abide by the ARDA code of ethics. When in doubt, applying common sense will go a long way: Overly-broad statements that ignore the many nuances of timeshare ownership should be a red flag. Take a minute to consider the full implications of what you’re reading, and ask yourself, “does this really make sense?” In the words of Carl Sagan, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."