Selling a time share

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Dear Steve,
I’m thinking of selling a time share through a vacation sales and marketing company. But they want money upfront to proceed. Why would I have to pay upfront fees if I agreed to pay at the end of the sale? I just don’t want them to run off with my money.
— Matt

Dear Matt,
Your instincts are right. Do not use that agency. Do not pay that upfront fee. Odds are great that you’ll be ripped off.

Some of these legit-sounding companies working time share-resale scams typically request a deposit of $100 to $700 that they say is a refundable marketing fee, appraisal fee, listing fee or some such nonsense. They even assure you that, like magic, they have buyers standing by to make a down payment on your week(s). Then “poof,” they make your money disappear.

Another scam involves companies offering to pay you more than what you’re asking for your week. You just have to wait until their check from a foreign bank “clears” and then refund them the difference. But their check to you will eventually bounce long after your check to them has been cashed.

In fact, any companies that promise amazingly good prices and quick sales are probably con artists. If there’s any question, contact the Better Business Bureau or your state’s attorney general’s office to determine if there have been complaints lodged. In any case, make sure the seller is a licensed broker. Ideally, the firm will also be a member of the American Resort Development Association.

As for fees, the only ones you should agree to pay are those assessed after the sale. Of course, some sites and publications will charge you $25 to $35 to advertise your time share, but these are usually legitimate, much like classified ads.

Realize that when you do this, you’ll probably hear from more scammers. Go to such places as the Timeshare Users Group at for additional tips on how to proceed.

First, you’ll probably need a time share pricing-reality check. Unfortunately, most resales get less than half of their original purchase price, say experienced time share sellers. If you price your time share right, it will sell.

See what time shares are selling for on eBay, Craigslist and the numerous time share-dedicated Web sites before putting yours on the block. If you see there are others trying to sell from the same resort or complex, realize you’ll have to have the lowest price to move yours — all unit sizes and amenities being equal. Another option is trying to rent your week.

But there is no sure-fire way of selling a time share. Most “short cuts” are really dead ends.

Good luck.

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