Westchester attorney says timeshare scam has owners sinking in regret

Spring is a time for change and many folks who thought they would enjoy vacationing in a wonderful timeshare are now stuck with an unattractive asset they can’t unload easily in the open market.  In these tough economic times that makes for some very desperate situations and desperation does not always result in clear-headed thinking.

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers that certain agencies are preying upon anxious time share owners by claiming to have interested buyers and bilking them for thousands of dollars in closing costs.  The way the scam works is that the agency will contact the owners and state there’s a buyer on the hook but the owner has to advance thousands in closing costs, which will be recouped on the back end.  If you believe that maybe you should by a share in a bridge!

Here are some tips to avoid becoming a sad statistic when trying to sell your timeshare:

1.  Do your homework – investigate the agency which has approached you.  Make sure they have an office, a license to sell (where necessary), and a good rating with a local consumer agency such as the Better Business Bureau.

2.  Commission – Ask if they charge a commission on the sale.  If so, they will be paid when the deal closes so there should be no logical reason to advance them any money upfront.

3.  Additional Fees – Many agencies will try to tack on extra fees for services you may or may not need, such as an appraisal.  For the seller, an appraisal only serves to determine market value so you can set your price according to the market; however, do your homework and you can set the price on your own.  Check with your condo management association or whichever agency collects your monthly maintenance fee and inquire as to the recent sales price of similar timeshares.  You don’t need to pay for an appraisal.

Also, beware if they try to charge you an “advertising” fee.  If they already have an interested buyer then why should they charge you advertising costs?  It doesn’t make sense.

4.  Escrow – Check with your local authorities and determine if the agency which approached you may act as an escrow agent on the deal.  If so, they may request escrow fees.

Your best bet is to think logically, especially if you are desperate to unload the timeshare’s financial burden.