Two wooden chairs on a tropical beach.

Experiencing Buyer’s Remorse? Here’s How to Get out of Your Timeshare

What are Your Options?

Do you own a timeshare and want to get out of it? Many people who attend a timeshare presentation go for the free gifts and incentives but end up getting swept up in the promise of a "good deal" and beautiful vacation home to use every year. However, once reality kicks in, there are a number of reasons a timeshare may not seem like such a good idea anymore.

Sometimes there are hidden fees for maintenance, utilities or taxes that weren’t taken into consideration. In other cases, it may not be feasible to actually use a timeshare because of the limited window of time you’re given to do so during the year.

Whatever the case, once you’ve signed on the dotted line, timeshares are notoriously hard to get rid of. However, there are a few ways to go about it if you're wondering how to get out of a timeshare.

Canceling the Purchase

First of all, if you’ve just signed a timeshare within the last couple of days and are experiencing buyer’s remorse, you may still be able to cancel without too much of a hassle. Every state — except Alaska, Kansas, North Dakota, Washington, D.C. and Wyoming — has a rescission period ranging from three to 10 days. During this time, you are guaranteed a risk-free cancellation period where you may change your mind and cancel a timeshare purchase without penalty.

Many contracts will include a Notice of Cancellation Rights form, which you will then need to fill out and mail to the developer or resort you purchased the timeshare from. If a form is not provided, you will need to draft a letter and include the exact names and addresses written on the timeshare contract, your timeshare contract number and the date of purchase of the timeshare.

Since the rescission period is time-sensitive, make sure to send it by certified mail to get confirmation of receipt.

If your state’s rescission period has passed, there are still ways to get rid of your timeshare, but it may take some time, and you may incur some fees.

Using a Licensed Reseller

Timeshares have a large resell market because so many timeshare owners end up having buyer’s remorse or want to get out of a timeshare. However, licensed resellers can help in selling timeshares through online marketing and advertising.

The American Resort Development Association recommends online marketplaces like RedWeek and BuyATimeshare where you can get connected with potential buyers. Some of these sites may charge a small fee for setting up your listing, but in general you won’t get charged anything until your timeshare is sold.

Most resale brokers take a commission of around 3% of the market value instead, which can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.

If you ever receive unsolicited calls offering to sell your timeshare for you, hang up the phone! Resale scams are rampant, preying on desperate owners looking to get rid of their timeshare. Never give out your credit card information over the phone or pay an upfront fee or commission as you will never hear from that person or company again and will still be stuck with your unwanted timeshare.

Qualifying for Buyback

One option for how to get rid of a timeshare is to take advantage of a buyback program. In some instances, your timeshare’s resort or HOA may buy back a timeshare. The best way to find out if you qualify for a buyback would be to check your contract for any such policy or by calling the resort or developer you purchased the timeshare from.

Unfortunately, even if the resort is willing to buy it back, you’ll likely only get back around 20% of what you initially paid for the timeshare.

Selling It Yourself

You also have the option of trying to sell or get rid of your timeshare yourself. Free online listings can be made on sites like Craigslist or eBay, allowing people to buy outright or bid on your timeshare. However, unless you’re an attorney or can afford one, this route isn’t usually recommended for most timeshare resales. There is a lot of paperwork, legal jargon and transfer fees to deal with, making it a huge headache for the average person.

Some charities will also take timeshares as donations for use by needy families. If all other avenues for getting out of a timeshare have failed, this could be a last-resort option… if you have a deeded timeshare. If you have a weekly timeshare such as fixed-week, floating or right-to-use, the IRS does not allow for a tax deduction to charity.

If you do happen to have a deeded timeshare, you can only deduct the “fair market value” of your timeshare donation, which is determined by the IRS, not what you initially paid or think the property is worth.

Final Notes

As you can see, it’s no easy feat getting out of a timeshare. It’s not uncommon for timeshare owners to continuously pay their yearly maintenance fees even if they’re not using a property or to rent it out to friends and family to try and recoup some of their losses.

If you do decide to sell your timeshare, make sure to get all your paperwork together to see what you have to work with. Look at comparable timeshares, taking into consideration when you bought it, the age of the property, resort amenities and location.

While it might be quite a journey to get out of a timeshare, by arming yourself with all the necessary information about what you have, you’ll have a better chance of freeing yourself from the bonds of an unwanted timeshare.