10 ?Must Know? Tips for Buying a Timeshare
- Your time share is going to be a fun and enjoyable experience. You’re going to have a blast with it! All you have to do is pay attention to a few details BEFORE you buy your time share. If you do, everything is going to go smoothly and you’ll be a very happy time share owner. Our job is to ensure a smooth transaction, and to gain a repeat customer. To date, not one penny has been lost by any of our customers. To date, every single buyer has gotten exactly what they expected, and sometimes even more. Here’s our free advice on what to look for, and especially what to look OUT for!
- Always, always have a licensed broker involved. First, a licensed broker is bound by law to make sure the buyer gets exactly what they’re supposed to get. Secondly, the contract is written, by law, containing certain language that protects your rights. There are also no “gray” areas in the contract. Everything is spelled out in such a way that a twelve-year old could read it and understand it. Without a broker, you have a “Buyer Beware” situation in which you have little, if any, recourse if something goes wrong. Lastly, it’s free! Normally the seller pays the broker’s commission. You get a free ride!
- Understand that this is a real estate transaction. Every state in the U.S. deems timeshare transfers to be a nothing less, just like selling a home or piece of land. This applies in all cases, whether the timeshare is deeded or not and whether the timeshare is in the U.S. or not. Would you buy any piece of real estate without having a real estate agent or real estate attorney involved? Of course not. So why would you buy a timeshare without the same benefit? Time shares can be especially tricky in that they are a specialized type of transfer requiring specialized knowledge. Most real estate agents and real estate attorneys are not familiar with timeshares. Thus, dealing with a real estate brokerage who handles NOTHING but time shares is imperative.
- Understand what a title agency does, and what they don’t do. First, they are NOT there to protect your rights or to point out any potential problems. They are there for one reason only, to transfer a title. If they are dealing with a buyer and seller directly, with no broker involved, they have little incentive to stop a title transfer if they see a problem. In fact, stopping the process could mean they’ve done work for which they won’t be paid. When the transaction involves a licensed broker, that broker normally sends them a LOT of business each year. An honest broker will have an arrangement and understanding with the title agent that anything that “pops up” is to be brought to the broker’s attention immediately. The broker can then contact the buyer and seller and work to fix any problems. If the problem can’t be fixed, the deal can be terminated and monies returned. With no broker involved, no one is there as the middle man to help work out and solve any problem.
- Understand the difference between a licensed Real Estate Brokerage, and an advertising company. There are thousands of timeshare web sites on the internet. When you choose the timeshare you want to purchase, make sure the company who advertised the timeshare is licensed as a real estate brokerage. If not, they’re nothing more than a glorified newspaper ad. Legally, they cannot get involved in the transaction, do contracts or see the deal through to closing. Many, however, cross the line and attempt to do a contract or push the paperwork to a title agency. To this date, we’ve never seen a timeshare contract written by an unlicensed company that was legal and protected all parties. Granted, many buyers and sellers end up getting what they agreed to simply because everyone was honest and above board, but many end up getting burned. Once burned, you find there’s no one to turn to for help. Short of trying to bring suit against someone whom you never met and lives in another state, you’ll eat the problem; which usually means you’ll shell out more money or not have anything near what you thought you were buying.
- Can things go wrong? YES! Unfortunately, not everyone is honest. We get listing agreements from sellers everyday that we look at and know they are fraudulent. We obviously turn them away, and they usually end up on a “For Sale by Owner” web site (a web site run by a company not licensed as a Real Estate Brokerage), waiting for a sucker to come along who doesn’t know all the ins and outs of timeshare transactions.
- Understand that by not using a licensed brokerage, your problems may very well start AFTER the transaction is completed and the seller has your money. Here’s just a very short sample of words you never want to hear yourself say:
- “I never knew that a Quit Claim Deed gave me no rights or guarantees. I now find out the seller didn’t even own the property! Yet, I have a deed in my hand!”
- “The seller didn’t tell me that he had usage only for every other year! I thought I could use the timeshare EVERY year!”
- “The resort allowed the transfer to go through even though the seller owed back maintenance fees! I’m now stuck with a giant bill and can’t use the timeshare until it’s paid!”
- “My dear RCI (or II) representative, what do you mean the old owner banked the weeks for the next two years and is using them for their vacations?” (PS: you’ll also have to pay the maintenance fees!)
- “Mr. Resort Representative, regarding the bill you sent me for the special assessment. You’re telling me the old owner knew it was coming and they didn’t tell me?!”
Now, that’s just a very short sampling. We could fill a book with things you’ve never thought of that could go wrong in a transaction. Just as some, or all, of these examples could easily have happened to you with no licensed brokerage involved, there are literally at least a hundred more we could go into.
- Scams abound. We don’t live in the ‘50s anymore with the Cleaver family (Leave It To Beaver show). Understanding that time share transfers are full of ways to cheat a buyer, there are actually businesses out there who make their living doing so. It is sad, but true. They’ll rake in a few million dollars, then close up shop and open again in another state under a different name. Again, make sure whomever you are dealing with has a real estate license. A license is not easy to get and the person applying for the license is scrutinized by the state before they will hand out the license.
- ASK Questions, but know who to ask. Your licensed real estate broker is trained not only in how to properly handle the contract, closing and any problems, but we’re also here to help you make the right decision. There are thousands of timeshares to choose from. Not everyone is right for you. Talk to us and tell us what you’d like to do with your timeshare. We’ll give you our honest, professional advice. If we think you’re about to make a mistake, we’ll tell you (the ultimate decision, of course, is up to you). If you need suggestions, we’ll make them and tell you why we think it’s the best one for you. Talking directly to a seller may get your answers “polished” a bit. They have only one timeshare to sell, and they want your money in their pocket. We have hundreds. We don’t care which one you buy as long as the one you pick is a great deal and you’re happy with it. A happy customer not only comes back for more, but they tell their friends. So ask away! It’s free and you’re under no obligation.
- Get it in writing! Anything we tell you on the phone we’ll be happy to put in writing. In real estate, a verbal statement is useless. Unless it’s in writing, the law will not protect you. We pull no punches, paint no rainbows, and give it to you straight. And, we give you something not one other company on the planet gives you: A One Year Satisfaction Guarantee. We are so confident that you’ll be so very pleased with your purchase; we’ll guarantee your complete satisfaction for an entire year! And THAT’S in writing too!
So there you have it, 10 items you are probably very glad you took the time to read. Now, time for the fun part! Go through our listings and pick out the time share that’s right for you. If you need more general info, see “How Time Shares Work” on our web site. And pick up the phone!(800-809-6020) Email us! Snail-mail us! Send a note by carrier pigeon! We’re here to help you! Or look through our current listing of timeshares for sale. Call us if you don't find the resort you are looking for.