The real estate market is a common place to find expensive scams targeting individuals and families with money to spare but a poor understanding of how to protect themselves. Scammers can afford to cast wide nets because it only takes a few gullible people to make their illicit efforts worthwhile. This is especially true in the timeshare market, as this industry has more ambiguity in terms of ownership, less oversight, and a general lack of public knowledge. In order to keep your investments safe, it is imperative to know the warning signs of an impending scam.
1. Telemarketing and cold emails
It’s surprising how many people still fall for telemarketing, spam emails, and other unsolicited forms of communication from supposedly legitimate timeshare companies. Offers generally sound too good to be true, for obvious reasons. If you didn’t ask to hear from them, there’s a good chance that their trolling for unsuspecting victims. Be very wary of any company that contacts you at home without you asking for any information.
2. Lack of documentation
A flashy website and a persuasive salesmen are easy to come by. Real credentials are not. Make sure that any broker has a realtor’s license before making any commitment with him or her. It is not a legal requirement, but you can be much more confident that someone holding a legitimate card is a trustworthy individual. The same goes for websites. Check through the American Resort Development Association or the Better Business Bureau to see if a company is reputable or not.
3. Promise of a profit or resales at the same price
If a salesperson tries to convince you that you can sell the property back to the company at any point for the same price that you bought, there’s a pretty huge chance that he or she is lying to you. Timeshares are notorious for losing a huge percentage of their value on the resale market, and there is no reason to believe that yours will be any different unless it is some sort of rare, antique property that is gaining value as it ages. You are almost guaranteed to take a loss if you resell.
4. Lack of available exchanges
If you are entering into a timeshare agreement with the hope of being able to exchange time at other properties easily, then be careful. There is often fine print that will prevent such an easy trade, or shady policies of giving priority to overnight guests and thus filling all the available beds that those who have accumulated timeshare points hope to sleep in. Make sure your contract is explicit and that the company has a good reputation online.
5. Up-front fees for a resale
A hundred or few hundred dollars may seem like small change when you’re selling your timeshare back into the market and hoping to recoup far more than that. However, there is rarely any reason for an up-front fee, and being asked for any sum, even should be an immediate red flag. These fees are often labeled as advertising or listing costs. Realtors selling primary homes calculate these costs when determining their commission, and timeshare resales should be no different.
Think you’re getting scammed? There’s a good chance you’re right. If you’ve already entered into a contract, you may still have some hope of getting out. Contact an organization like Right Choice Transfer to get professional help in transferring your timeshare and escaping an unfair commitment.