Last week, we discussed key questions you should ask before you purchase a timeshare or about a timeshare you already own. This week, we’ll discuss what you should do if you’ve asked those key questions and realize your timeshare isn’t what you thought it would be.

According to a recent study by ARDA (American Resort Development Association), about 8 in 10 timeshare owners said they would happily buy their timeshare again.  But what about those who want out?

That dream timeshare which seemed like it made perfect sense – at the time. Now, you’re struggling with how often you’ll really make use of your purchase, the rate you’re paying on the money you borrowed, or the monthly fees and how they impact your expenses.

As we mentioned in our last edition of Money Do, timeshares shouldn’t be purchased as an investment. Instead, we encourage you to think of buying a timeshare as a lifestyle purchase that allows you an annual vacation that suits the wants and needs of your family.

Families Change
Even though we say “it’s for the family” when we purchase a timeshare, family can often contribute to timeshare dissatisfaction. Family dynamics can (and will) change over time: whether its divorce, death of a spouse, children leaving home and then starting their own families, loss of a job, or illness, realities of life can greatly affect a family’s vacation needs. That timeshare at Disney’s Magic Kingdom might be great for 15 years – but once the kids are grown, most of the magic might be gone.

Consider An Exchange
Timeshare exchange companies can alleviate some of that buyer’s remorse.  Instead of owning one week at only one property, owners become members of the exchange system when they buy their first timeshare.  The exchange company allow owners to trade units within a resort system. One of the largest such exchanges is RCI, which offers members access to more than 4,500 affiliated resorts worldwide, but there are many reputable resort exchanges available. Make sure to research the best fit for you.

Can You Make It Fit Financially?
According to a study by Ernst and Young, 56% of reclaimed timeshares (properties that revert back to the developer) are a result of foreclosure. In fact, some folks who have a timeshare purchase agreement just stop paying, which is harmful to your credit and your financial future.

Foreclosures occur for many reasons, but for some who have purchased a timeshare, aggressive sales tactics played a part in closing the deal. Often when faced with that sort of situational duress, we’ll overlook a key detail that may end up making the finances of the purchase seem untenable.

One such critical detail are maintenance fees, which have increased approximately 5% per year on average since 2010. Disney’s timeshares have seen a 2-3% annual gain.

Some solutions you can look into are:


  1. If financial hardship exists, and you have borrowed to purchase your timeshare, you may be able to refinance your timeshare. We found a few examples of banks which offer a timeshare loan. Make sure to explore key terms like rate, term and prepayment penalty.



  1. There’s a very active secondary market for timeshares, and many people purchase timeshares on the secondary market to save money on the upfront purchase price. Because supply greatly exceeds demand, don’t be surprised to only receive a fraction of your purchase price.

Depending on location and maintenance fees, sometimes you can even give them away. That may sound like you’ve somehow “lost” – but keep in mind your overall financial goal; and if this purchase has had, and will continue to have, a negative impact on your financial plan. Giving your timeshare away may be a positive step to reaching a larger goal.

If you’re going to try and resell your timeshare try to determine the market. Take a look at sites like,, and even, which  have a huge list of properties that advertise for as low as $1, put up for sale by owners who want to get out of a timeshare.

**Given how competitive this market is, and how rare it is to profit in it, be cautious of any company that promises an amazing resale price but asks for money up front.



You might be able to exit your timeshare obligation completely. Remember, the resort is under no obligation to work with you, so the chances are small. Sometimes, when presented with extenuating circumstances like loss of a job, death of a spouse, some resorts may consider your proposal.

If you do consider this route, expect a lengthy process, one requiring several phone calls to get to the right decision makers. You’ll need to get past the loan servicing departments who will most likely try to persuade you to towards the resale market.  Keep in mind, the bigger the brand the easier this process may be.

Typically, if you are able to give your timeshare back, no money will exchange hands. The resort owner re-deeds the property back to themselves, thus freeing you completely of the timeshare. If the resort consents to that course of action, they’ll most likely send all the legal documents to you to complete the transaction. It would make good sense to have an attorney review the docs prior to signing anything.



If you can’t resell your timeshare, and the resort is not willing to take it back, you might want to hire a timeshare exit company. Remember, these business are controversial and expensive, costing upwards of $5,000 or more to help you exit your timeshare. Do the math and ask yourself: would offering several years maintenance fees to a potential buyer be a cheaper option? Sometimes, timeshare exit companies will charge you for actions you could have taken on your own.

We can’t repeat it enough – timeshares must not be viewed as investments. If you do, expect disappointment in light of often-terrible resale value and the difficulty in shedding your agreement.

Getting out of a timeshare agreement will require tenacity, and potentially a bump or bruise to your pride – and possibly even your bank account. Know what you’re getting into when you sign, and stay focused on your goals when you try to get out of your timeshare.


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