It’s no secret that the travel industry has been hit hard by the global pandemic. From airlines to cruise lines, from large hotel chains to entrepreneurial vacation rental owners, the stories of economic strife abound.
Buried deep beyond the headlines, exists an underbelly of deception, fraud and scams known as the timeshare exit industry. It is fraught with stories of normal people who purchased a timeshare back in the glory days when timeshare ownership was seen as advantageous but are now stuck in a never-ending cycle of rising maintenance fees, ownership in perpetuity and inability to get out of timeshare ownership.
The timeshare industry – A brief overview
Timeshares are a $10 billion industry with more than 9.6 million households “owning” some type of timeshare. In exchange for their right to use a property during a specified period of time or for an allocated number of points, an owner agrees to pay annual maintenance fees that (in theory) represent their proportional share of cost to own that property.
To illustrate, let’s meet our happy couple, Jack and Diane, who purchased a one-week interval at Little Pink Houses Resort back in 80s. They were excited to visit the resort each year and/or exchange their week to travel to other exotic destinations. Their contract mentioned annual maintenance fees, the right to increase those fees each year and “in perpetuity” ownership, effectively giving the resort the ability to demand a blank check for Jack and Diane… forever.
Fast forward to today, where companies like AirBnB offer a luxury vacation at the click of a button. With this new kind of system there are no reservations, point redemptions or red weeks to deal with.
Jack and Diane finally realized their once-loved timeshare was no longer useful and decided to sell it.
That’s when it happened. Jack and Diane got scammed.
They were lured by promises of guaranteed exit, assurances that would never pay another maintenance fee again and claims that a buyer is already lined up. So, they decided to move forward.
Unfortunately, Jack and Diane stumbled upon one of the many timeshare scammers waiting for desperate people seeking to offload their burdensome timeshare. Like many others, Jack and Diane bought into the scheme and it cost them thousands.
The real deal
If timeshares are so difficult to get rid of and the industry is riddled with scammers, what are the safe timeshare exit options?
We asked CEO of Give Up My Timeshare, Alexandra Olson that question.
“You really only have two legal options,” said Olson. “Option A. You get the resort to take back ownership. Option B. You find a new owner willing to do a legal title transfer similar to a regular real estate transaction.”
Let’s take a look at these options in more detail.
Option A – Get the resort to take back ownership. In some rare cases, the resort will allow a “deed-back” of the ownership. With the timeshare industry fighting to end exit options, larger developers have in turn created programs to allow owners to get out through them directly. While many of them have these programs to look good in court while suing sketchy exit companies, it is rare that owners are successful in exiting through the resort directly. Still, it is worth a shot and should be the first step in your timeshare exit journey.
Option B – Find a new owner willing to do a legal title transfer similar to a regular real estate transaction. At first glance, this option seems to be another version of a scam. If so many owners are trying to get out, then who in their right minds would buy a timeshare now?
“That’s a great question,” Olson said with a smile.
“Give Up My Timeshare wants your timeshare because we work with industry aggregates like travel clubs and vacation rental companies who have successfully transformed the outdated points or weeks systems into easy to book vacations,” said Olson. “The resorts are still very desirable. It’s just the timeshare ownership piece that’s outlived its usefulness. We have found a way to fix that. It’s a win-win for all parties.”
What is Give Up My Timeshare?
Give Up My Timeshare, a Nevada-based company, is revolutionizing the timeshare exit industry by providing a zero-risk option for timeshare owners that want out.
Arizona-native and CEO of Give Up My Timeshare, Alexandra Olson is a 15-year veteran of the timeshare industry. She understands the history and changes that have contributed to an industry riddled with scams.
“I was attracted to Give Up My Timeshare simply because of its straightforward business model,” Olson said. “With zero monies required up front, we can assure our clients success and working with 3rd-party title companies adds an additional layer of confidence that makes Give Up My Timeshare the only risk-free option in the industry.”
The 4-step process does not involve any money up front.
- Step 1 – Consultation. The process kicks off with a free consultation to learn about your specific timeshare and determine if Give Up My Timeshare industry aggregators might want to purchase it. If your timeshare is eligible to move forward, agreements will be sent in writing for your review. “Everything is transparent from the beginning,” Olson explained. “There are no surprises.”
- Step 2 – Open Escrow. The legal documents necessary to transfer ownership are prepared with a 3rd party title company. Documents are in writing and notarized like any other real estate transaction.
- Step 3 – Actual Title Transfer. The escrow process can take as little as 30 days to end your timeshare ownership. The resort is notified of the new legal owner along with any necessary paperwork like deed recordings and the timeshare exit fee is coordinated directly with the escrow company. The seller only authorizes payment when the legal title transfer is being confirmed.
- Step 4 – FREEDOM! You’re officially, legally and forever timeshare free.
What to avoid: The scams
Scammers work with precision and skill peppering the internet, radio and even boiler-room-like call centers often targeting the elderly or couples desperate to find a way out of their never-ending maintenance fees.
Common claims scammers use about their “guaranteed timeshare exit” schemes:
- Simply wire a one-time, upfront payment to cover expenses and transfer fees.
- Simply stop paying your existing maintenance fees to the resort and redirect those payments to the exit company.
- Simply pay our attorneys an upfront legal retainer fee, stop paying maintenance fees and you will be timeshare free.
How do you avoid being scammed? We asked Olson for her tips and best practices.
“The ultimate question to ask of any exit company is to understand their business model. Ask yourself, is this sustainable? Are they maintaining integrity to the industry or trying to pull a scam here? We have a platform for maximizing these otherwise unwanted timeshares and repurposing them into vacation rentals so that the resort is not harmed by the ownership being transferred.”
Olson also pointed out some red flags to remember:
- Be wary of any timeshare exit company that requires an up-front fee.
- Be wary of any timeshare exit company that advises you to stop paying your maintenance fees.
- Be wary of any timeshare exit company that advises you to pay an upfront legal retainer.
- Be wary of any timeshare exit company that does not contract with a reputable 3rd party escrow (or title) company that handles your monies.
Give Up My Timeshare is the only risk free solution a lot of timeshare owners have been looking for, providing an escape from the endless fees without fear of losing money to scams and false promises. The bottom line? “If you want out, we can help,” said Olson.
To learn more about your zero risk, no money up front, legal timeshare exit options, visit www.giveupmytimeshare.com