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The Risks and Dangers of Buying a Timeshare Online

Would you lease a car for twenty, fifty or ninety-nine years and buy it online, without the benefit of reviewing the terms of the contract?   When you see thousands of offers from private consumers and from timeshare companies to “buy conveniently online,” we want the public to see a red flag.  Stop, review carefully, and understand the legal terms of the contract before you consider purchasing a timeshare.

Why Owners Sell Timeshares Online

Many timeshare owners are looking for an easy way to get out of their timeshare contract.  During timeshare sales presentations, owners are frequently assured that their resort they have bought into is in “high demand” and that they always have the option of finding an buyer eager to save on the initial investment, and buy-in at a lower cost.

Some timeshare owners have been burned by resorts and private companies who offer to help with the resale process.  What owners quickly realize through this process, is that the market is full of real estate consultants who are willing to accept upfront payment for the ‘chance’ to sell the timeshare.  Owners mistakenly feel more confident that timeshare sales experts have other resources that will make selling the timeshare affordable, fast and easy.  There are thousands of online complaints from angry consumers who lost even more money, after hiring a resale company.  Less than 2% of timeshares sell per statistics, whether you have hired a real estate consultant or not.

Frustrated by the increasing cost of the timeshare, and by paying fees for no results, the next step many owners take is to try to sell their timeshare privately.  Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are crowded with sellers, looking for someone willing to take over their costly timeshare contract.   The volume of sellers versus buyers should be the first thing that timeshare owners consider; if timeshares were a commodity that was in gross demand, there would be more buyers, and fewer properties available.  Unfortunately, this is a fact that many owners don’t consider, until they attempt to sell it independently.

The New Motivation for Resorts to Sell Timeshares Online

The traditional timeshare sales approach is to target consumers while they are on vacation, or entice them to a free three-day stay at a resort, to pitch them the timeshare opportunity.   This is a costly process for the developer and the resort.   Not only do they have to offer free amenities, which can include all-inclusive stays and accommodation, they also must pay for the sales staff that will provide the presentation meeting, and attempt to enroll and persuade vacationers into signing a contract.

If a resort can sell you, the consumer, a timeshare without having to factor in a commission to the sales staff, they are saving money.   Resorts continue to lure with free meals, tours and excursions, and even cash to enhance your free vacation experience, but only to qualified buyers.   Through Facebook, they can target advertising to consumers who have a specific income, or those who have traveled to certain areas, followed other vacation clubs, or expressed interest in contests that promise a free vacation.   They can target seniors, lower income earners (looking for vacation bargains) and many other factors to find the ideal customers to pitch timeshare ownership to.

The Dangers of Buying a Timeshare Online

The idea of reviewing a timeshare offer online, at home and well away from the high-pressure sales tactics used in person-to-person selling is appealing to consumers.   And it is possible to get a significantly rebated timeshare through an online seller, if you are determined to own one.   However, there are several financial risks associated with signing a timeshare contract.

In the sales presentation, you have the benefit of asking questions, or discussing the timeshare opportunity with other buyers in your presentation room (if they allow it).   If you are the type of person who meticulously reviews a contract, you can ask some very pointed questions about the resort, your responsibilities as an owner, and ask for documentation including past increases or maintenance fee trends.  This can help give you something of an advantage, if the sales professional is unable to answer questions and provide the information you need to decide.

Buying online increases your risk of impulse buying.  Frustrated and needing a vacation?  If you have reviewed a few vacation websites, and find that advertisements are popping up on Google, or in your social media networks, naturally you are going to investigate the offers.   But everything you are reviewing pertaining to your contract is online, until you decide that you want to proceed with the purchase, at which time sellers may provide an electronic contract or .pdf, which is full of the details you need to know to protect your credit, and your budget.

Be honest.  When confronted with a contract that can be as many as ten pages long and full of fine print, how carefully would you review the terms?   Consumers are more likely to ask questions when they have a live salesperson meeting with them, and go over contracts point-by-point.  However, purchasing online is deceptive as it can be a faster, seemingly less difficult process, but it is one that leaves consumers exposed to hidden details within the contract, that can add up to unreasonable financial burdens in the future.

As the timeshare industry embraces new methods of selling to unwary consumers, including through social media, online advertising and even telemarketing sales, it is important to protect your interest by slowing down the sales process.   Many of our clients have shared that they were expedited through the purchase experience, with not enough time to sit, read and review the terms of their contract.  Important details like unlimited increases to maintenance fees, reduced point values, late payment penalties and legal fees, liens and legal action for non-payment.

Don’t risk shopping online for a twenty, thirty or 99-year lease with no options.  Do your research about a vacation resort before you buy, and educate family members about increased costs and the potential to damage personal credit, because of a timeshare purchase.   Remember that a private sale from another consumer indicates that they were dissatisfied with the return on investment they received from their timeshare, and both resorts, and private sellers will employ dishonest tactics to get you to sign on the dotted line.

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Since 2004, American Consumer Credit has helped hundreds of families exit the red-tape and trap of timeshare ownership.  We offer legal assistance and a twelve-month money back guarantee for our services.  Visit TrustPilot, the internet’s most reliable independent consumer rating website, for recommendations from our past clients.   We can help you exit your timeshare contract, while protecting your personal credit.