Love them or hate them -- there's little middle ground when it comes to timeshares. If you no longer use yours or find that high maintenance and/or loan fees offset the benefits of vacation ownership, there are solutions. You can legally dispose of your timeshare by selling it or giving it away.
If you purchased your timeshare from a developer that offers a buyback program, you may be able to sell your week back. Although the developer is likely to pay a rock-bottom price while charging a hefty resale fee, the benefit is a fast sale that saves you additional maintenance and loan payments.
A number of outlets exist for timeshare sales-by-owner. Websites such as Redweek.com and the Timeshare Users Group have classified ads where members post ads for a fee. Other options include Craigslist, which is free, as well as eBay and local newspaper ads. Although selling your timeshare yourself is likely to earn you the highest price, "high" is relative. Timeshares rarely sell for more than 25 percent of their original price, according to CNN Money, and the market is so saturated that many never sell at all.
A real estate broker specializing in timeshare resales can list your timeshare in much the same way a traditional real estate broker lists homes for sale. Be wary of timeshare brokers who charge large upfront fees. Legitimate brokers earn most of their money through commissions after they sell, not through listing fees. Exorbitant upfront fees indicate that the broker is a scam artist.
Unlike the forms of vacation ownership that simply give you the right to use a member property for a week or purchase time using points, a deeded timeshare is an interest in real estate that you can donate to benefit a charitable organization, such as the National Kidney Foundation. Companies working on organizations’ behalf sell the timeshares, often for well below market value, then share the proceeds. Although you're responsible for the expenses associated with your timeshare until the sale closes, you eventually get both a tax write-off and relief from maintenance and loan payments. According to Bankrate.com, you'll need a written appraisal to write off a timeshare worth more than $5,000.
You may be able to give away your timeshare, whether to the developer who sold it to you or a company that specializes in quick "exit strategies" for dissatisfied owners. Neither will pay you for your timeshare and you won't be able to write off the gift, but if you're desperate to get out from under the payments, this may be your quickest solution.
Listing your timeshare for rent allows you to generate some income that can offset, if not cover, your loan payments and maintenance fees in the event your timeshare doesn’t sell. This may be an acceptable option if your desire to sell results from a temporary circumstance. Venues such as Craigslist and paid vacation-rental marketing websites, including VRBO, VacationRentals.com, HomeAway and FlipKey, are among the places where you can advertise for renters.
- resort image by Svetlana Kashkina from Fotolia.com