Posted on February 25, 2022
We all know that timeshare owners regularly look to sell timeshare. That’s no secret, as even a casual glance online shows the timeshares available for sale at any given time. But have you ever wondered why an owner chooses to sell their timeshare?
Some of the reasons owners give to sell timeshare may be well worn but the order may surprise you, especially the most common reasons. For instance, maintenance fees have long been the whipping boy of owners – as many don’t quite understand why the fees need to keep going up each year at a rate often exceeding the pace of inflation.
Until this year, that is.
So, consumers as well as the industry have long assumed that maintenance fees, or any type of on-going annual fees, is the top reason why owners want to sell. According to our data, you’d be incorrect in that assumption.
We’ve been tracking these reasons for a while now, with specifics that show a broad range of motivations. Some are actually good news for the timeshare companies, others not as much.
Until relatively recently, say in the last 5-7 years, most timeshare companies have held to the premise that owners wouldn’t really want to relinquish ownership if they were only re-engaged to fully understand how great the product is and how to use it to the best of their ability.
A noble concept, but not a fully accurate one as you will see in the list below.
The last few years have seen a shift in the industry, with companies realizing that there are significant life changes that take place in the lives of owners, necessitating their need to sell. Which is why many of the larger branded timeshare companies now have programs in place to help owners looking to transition out of their ownership.
For example, Wyndham was a pioneer in this concept, the first company to publicly initiate such a program when they announced their Ovation program in 2015. Full disclosure – Timeshare Broker Associates has been a Featured Reseller for Wyndham since then and has helped them transition owners looking to move on and sell their Wyndham timeshare ownership.
We track the reasons because it plays a role in managing the expectations of owners. The majority of owners look to sell as quickly as possible, but the reality is that it can take time for a timeshare to sell, sometimes just because of the number of weeks it can take to go through the closing process.
Understanding their level of urgency helps our licensed agents manage the expectations of an owner, since some timeshares take longer to sell than others.
Below you will find our top 10 reasons why people want to sell their timeshare, counting down in descending order from the least common to the most common reason.
10) Inherited – because of the deeded nature of timeshare ownership, in some cases a timeshare can be a part of a person’s estate and willed to a beneficiary following the owner’s death. While the legal specifics vary depending on the type of ownership and the state in which they live or the timeshare is located, a person inheriting a timeshare may not want to keep it.
9) Can't Exchange It – owners sometimes get frustrated with their exchange company if they feel as though they cannot get the exchange they want, or the time at which they want to vacation. Ironically, a ranking this low is actually good news for the exchange companies, since this can also be a hot topic on online message boards but doesn’t appear to be as pressing a reason to sell as presumed.
8) Divorce – as most owners know, timeshare companies initially sell to couples in the vast majority of cases, often because their marketing strategies point to a more successful outcome when presenting to couples. This results in joint ownership of the timeshare, which can lead to the timeshare being put up for sale in case the marriage dissolves.
In this case, it is important that the couple discuss their deed and/or ownership status with their resort or timeshare company and finalize any changes before putting their ownership up for sale. Moving the ownership into the name of one owner can help streamline the sale process.
7) Disability – sometimes an owner can suffer from a disabling condition that hinders their ability to go on vacation. If owners encounter a significant health event and can no longer travel, moving on from their timeshare is always an option.
6) Death of Spouse/Parent – this can parallel the inheritance reason, as a death in the family can lead to the transfer of ownership to a spouse or children. A spouse suddenly on a one-income budget may no longer choose to travel and see timeshare ownership as a luxury they can remove from their lifestyle. This can also be an emotional decision if there was an emotional attachment to the timeshare following years of family vacations.
5) Don't Understand How to Use – this is the reason we referenced earlier but as you can see it only comes up in the middle of the pack at number 5. As timeshare developers get more creative in their points-based programs, they can tend to confuse owners, especially ones who are more comfortable with fixed week ownership. It is a legitimate reason, just not as high up as our trendier next reason.
4) Maintenance Fees Too High – yes, those sneaky yet necessary fees make an appearance but not as high on the list as you might have expected. Most owners understand that annual fees are needed for the upkeep and maintenance of the resort, and the better the resort looks and operates, the better the chance to attract new owners.
However, this becomes an issue of value for money, since some owners just cannot continually justify paying increasing fees, especially if they fall into our top category below.
3) Advanced Age – this is an on-going issue for resorts, as long-term owners age out of their ownership and seek to move on from their timeshare. Nothing negative is conveyed about the timeshare product, since many owners have shared years, even decades, of wonderful family vacations. Sometimes, it’s just time to sell.
2) Financial Issues – this is a broader category that may involve elements of the reasons mentioned earlier, but this can also include loss of a job or perhaps loss of a spouse’s job, or poor results from separate financial investments. Even higher cost of living issues.
As the economy continues to struggle with inflation and global geopolitical and virus-related uncertainty, this can become more of a problem for owners and push even more owners into the resale market.
1) Not Using It – the number one reason owners give us when they sell timeshare is just the lack of using the product. This may seem like a generic reason and sometimes our agents can drill down to a more specific issue like the ones mentioned above. But there are several owners who originally made an emotional purchase and simply don’t use it anymore.
Most people can relate to seeing an ad on TV or online and buying something at one time that ended up on the shelf or in the garage, rarely if ever used. It happens.
Timeshare companies have the ability to reach out to these owners and re-engage them, and some companies do an excellent job of basically “reselling” the benefits of their programs to existing owners. But some owners buy it, perhaps use it once or twice, and before they know it seven or eight years have gone by and they wonder why they still own it.
The Not Using It reason can be a mystery, and since our licensed agents are not psychologists they don’t necessarily explore the lack of motivation for an owner to use their timeshare.
The industry assumption is that everyone wants to head off for a vacation every year, so why wouldn’t they want to use it? We’ve seen nine other reasons above that owners have given us, but the bottom line is that all of these reasons result in an owner not using their timeshare and looking for an avenue to move on.
There are no right or wrong answers here, as owners are obviously entitled to their views, but we wanted to provide this information in case there are owners simply thinking about selling. There is so much negativity online created by exit companies and others with a vested interest in creating unhappiness about the product that we wanted to bring a more complete view of the issues.
Remember, we have a strong interest in finding buyers, since that is how we make our money because we don’t charge upfront fees to sellers. And we know that consumers are buying on the resale market or we wouldn’t still be in business, even accounting for the impact of the pandemic.
Owners looking to explore the resale market can contact us for a no-cost consultation including a market value analysis of what their timeshare is worth on the open market. You can call us on 877-624-6889 or leave us a message by clicking here and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.