your time share
Real Estate Adviser,
My husband and I made a really bad financial
decision, buying a time-share condo on a golf course in Myrtle Beach,
S.C. Neither of us golf. We bought it five years ago and still owe
over $1,000. It's not even on the beach, which is where we want
to be. Our week is in December, but when we go to the beach, it's
always in the summer. We let the seller talk us into this because
of the trading power. Also, you have to pay maintenance fees every
year ($400). It's very nice, but we have never spent the night there.
What is the least-expensive, fastest way to get rid of this?
I'd love to tell you what you want to hear, Malinda, but I can't.
It's definitely a buyer's market out there for time shares, and
will be for the foreseeable future. A lot of people are trying to
wriggle out of them and buyers can often pluck them up for a song.
This isn't a knock on the concept. Time shares in
prime resort areas in peak seasons are much more marketable. People
who have secured reasonably priced units in desirable locations
swear by them -- not at them -- and even own several around the
But a December week in "Myrtle," while certainly
not the least desirable place to be in the winter, is still considered
an off-season time share. So you may have a challenge on your hands
unloading it quickly.
Like a new car, your time share likely depreciated
the moment you bought it. Companies that sell them have to load
their promotional costs into the price. Those free airline tickets,
vacation packages and other prizes used to entice prospects can
add up, whether they buy or not. "Such resorts usually add
50 percent of sales cost to cover marketing costs and that's pretty
much what you have to take off the top when you sell," said
Chip Ballew, president of Timeshares.com.
So the bad news is that you may get back only about
half of what you originally paid, which presumably is in the $15,000
to $20,000 range.
The good news is you have several options to explore.
There are numerous sites that list time shares for
sale, trade or rent, including timeshares,
Some offer property-user ratings, numbers of responses per ad, selling
tips, industry news and other services. Ebay
now devotes an entire section to time shares.
Of course, conventional real estate brokers can handle
a time share sale, but their commissions will usually run higher
than average, sometimes 25 percent or more. Some will even charge
fees for appraisals, which are unnecessary in most time share sales,
by the way. There are a handful of specialty brokers who periodically
conduct auctions. Search the Internet under "time share auctions."
Would-be sellers should not send money to parties
who absolutely promise to sell their time share, says Ballew. "Some
won't get sold, and people will feel they were getting ripped off,
which is kind of like pouring salt in wound," he said. Newspaper
classified sections, Ebay and some Internet services will charge
a slight fee.
But there's no cut-and-dried method to move a time
There is another avenue you might explore if you have
no luck and really want to cut and run. Contact charities to see
if they will accept time shares as donations. Some will sell or
rent them to raise funds or even use them for organizational functions.
You can generally deduct up to $5,000 of fair market value without
an appraisal, as well as transfer fees, according to the IRS. Contact
your accountant or tax representative first, though.