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Are Timeshares a Scam?

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Posted on May 05, 2023

If Your Timeshare Feels Like a Scam, Here's What You Need to Know

If there is one question that has continually surfaced over decades of timeshare sales, it is this - are timeshares a scam? Perhaps you have been on the receiving end of an overly aggressive sales pitch at a resort, or feel that maybe you didn’t get all of the information you needed when you made your initial timeshare purchase?

With nearly 10 million timeshare owners in America, it’s likely many have wondered if timeshares are a scam. But even if you feel as though the process has been less than transparent, the good news is that you can still get good value from your timeshare ownership – whether you decide to use it or sell your timeshare.

woman wondering if timeshares are a scam

Are Timeshares a Scam? One Owner’s Experience

My uncle used to feel that way. He bought an Orlando timeshare back in the 2000s and initially wanted to use it for day trips, to use the resort facilities on occasion since he lives in Florida. It wasn’t long before the bills started rolling in and he thought he had been duped into buying a timeshare.

After a period of time where he just didn’t use it and wondered why he was paying maintenance fees, he researched his options and discovered RCI. He hasn’t looked back since and loves it, even giving his weeks to family members as wedding presents and exchanging it to visit his wife’s relatives in California. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel for timeshare owners wondering if they can get good value for their ownership.

How Are Timeshares a Scam?

Owners wondering whether timeshares are a scam are often offended by the high-pressure sales tactics or feel that the cost doesn’t measure up to the experience. The keys to satisfied timeshare ownership are being properly informed, having the right expectations and having the financial means to see out your timeshare ownership for an extended period of time.

Product Education

couple researching their timeshare options

Over the decades, the timeshare industry has been more than slack overall when it comes to educating its owner base. Some companies do a much better job than others, but part of the problem is in the way buyers are first introduced to the product - through slick sales practices.

In many instances, sales teams that are too heavily focused on closing the sale leave ownership questions unanswered, with owners left to figure things out for themselves after the purchase. Now that the products have become more complex (try figuring out some of those points charts!?!) every resort needs to have a proactive customer service team in place to walk owners through the process of using their ownership, even if it means video screen-sharing tutorials or relying on exchange programs.

Owners should nag their resort or timeshare company until they get the answers they need regarding how to use the product. Don’t accept being referred to ownership documents, sifting through websites or being referred to manuals that can be way too long to digest.

Setting Expectations

We are still hearing reports of sales teams pitching timeshare as a financial investment. Please, stop it already. The industry overall has done a great job pivoting away from the financial aspect to highlighting the lifestyle benefits of the product that comes from continued annual vacations – resulting in healthier family relationships and improved emotional and physical health.

In an overwhelming number of cases, owners will not make a profit on their timeshare purchase. But it was never meant to be a financial money-maker because it is considered a use product similar to a car purchase. The benefit is in using the product and enjoying your vacation.

Also – as the products have become more points-based and, therefore, more wide-ranging to use than the standard fixed week timeshares, there is a bit of trial and error for owners until they get the hang of using it.

This may mean planning your vacation a lot earlier than you usually would or using your exchange company to stay in a different resort. If you need to, lean on the travel planners with the exchange companies, since they can open up numerous travel scenarios for using your timeshare that you may never have thought of.


timeshare owners going through their finances

Ah yes, the F-word. Buying a timeshare can be a relatively expensive choice but, going back to the expectations, this is a long-term play. The longer you use your timeshare, the better the benefit, especially after you’ve paid off any loan attached to the purchase.

Try prorating the amount of your purchase, including maintenance fees, over a 20-year timeframe to see what your average annual cost is, then compare it to paying for a hotel in a comparable resort. Not a Motel 6 apples to oranges comparison, but a resort in line with where you own. You may be surprised at the savings, especially if you own at a Disney timeshare resort and see the exorbitant amount Disney charges for rentals.

This comparison is especially impactful if the timeshare was purchased on the resale market, which can be a frustrating realization for owners after they have already bought their timeshare through the resort. Looking at the significant discounts of timeshare resales can be a real eye-opener, since resort prices are marked up 50-60 percent to cover sales and marketing costs.

Resales are definitely a better bargain, and using a licensed timeshare broker who can help find the right timeshare for a buyer is important. Buyers want to get the best deal possible but don’t always know what options exist in the resale market. Using a professional, licensed agent who lives in the resale space can turn up the diamond in the rough buyers are looking for to secure amazing vacation accommodations.

Of course, if your circumstances change and you can no longer afford to vacation every year, this becomes a different scenario and should turn to a discussion about selling your timeshare.

Most Owners Don’t Think Timeshares Are a Scam

Timeshare owners are exceedingly happy with their timeshares according to the American Resort Development Association, which stated that 90 percent of owners are happy with their timeshare. Of those owners, 84 percent would buy a timeshare again, so for those consumers asking, “are timeshares a scam?”, clearly most owners don’t think so.

As ownership progresses through the years, some owners feel as though they have received all the benefit of timeshares that they can get. Either because of changing financial situations, changes in health or family dynamics, some owners feel they need to sell their timeshare rather than keep it.

This is where using a licensed timeshare broker such as Timeshare Broker Associates is important to successfully selling your timeshare.

How Do Licensed Brokers Sell Timeshare?

licensed timeshare resale brokers

Brokers primarily work on a commission-only model, with licensed agents getting paid after a sale is closed – similar to traditional real estate agents. That means no upfront fees for owners looking to sell their timeshare.

The agent consults with the seller to discover the seller’s priorities, creates a listing agreement to put the process in writing, finds the buyer, conducts the negotiation and handles the purchase and sale agreement.

Once the deposit is collected from the buyer and placed in escrow, the deal is referred to a trusted closing company to complete the sale. Proceeds from the sale are then sent to the seller along with confirmation that the ownership has been transferred out of the seller’s name.

Sell or buy a timeshare responsibly through a trusted source. Contact Timeshare Broker Associates today.


Author Pic
Steve Luba
Chief Communications Officer

Steve manages the public relations and content creation efforts of the company. Previously the Chief Operating Officer for Perspective Magazine, he provided oversight and contributed articles for the five regional vacation ownership trade magazines under the Perspective Magazine banner. 

A contributor for industry publications such as Resort Trades and Developments Magazine, Steve Luba has 36 years of experience in various roles in radio and television, sales and marketing, public relations, media and government liaison initiatives. 

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