If you own a timeshare and have fallen out of love with it, you're not alone. 

I have one friend who raves about her timeshare because it allows her to take multiple vacations each year with her husband. The program they have lets them stay in different locations, not just the one unit they originally purchased. But I have another friend who feels she made a huge mistake buying a timeshare and wishes she could unload it. 

The second opinion is the one most shared by timeshare owners. If you have read or heard anything about selling a timeshare, you know the path is difficult.

How the industry works 

Timeshare programs are notorious for high-pressure selling tactics that lure in new buyers. Almost every timeshare purchase is the result of a fancy presentation that might have included incentives like meals, vacations, spa visits, golfing perks, and other gifts. Most people are caught up in the moment, dreaming of relaxing vacations at luxury resorts in exotic locations. 

Timeshare furnishings usually look 
trendy, and there is an emphasis on 
views, local attractions, and on-site
luxuries. Photo: Koala Vacation Rentals
The truth is, after officially signing papers (that protect the seller and give limited rights to the buyer) and paying an average of $19,000 for the property, the new owners are obligated to pay annual maintenance fees that average $660 a year, ongoing. Forever. 

There are a number of reasons owners become disenchanted with their timeshare. They might tire of returning to the same vacation spot, the same two-bedroom condo. Maintenance fees continue to rise. 

Compared to what it would cost them to stay at hotels as nice or better than their unit, often with more interesting amenities such as free breakfasts, room cleaning, and linen service, their financial investment doesn't make sense, although some timeshare complexes include restaurants, and some offer housekeeping services for additional fees. 

As partial owners, the buyers have no control over how the unit is managed, decorated or maintained. Scheduling a vacation is fixed instead of fluid. Vacation style preferences change as people age. 

But the major disadvantage of owning a timeshare is that it is a poor investment of money, despite what timeshare salespeople infer. It may be an investment in your family's ability to have a regular, preplanned vacation without having to make reservations, but it is not a wise financial decision.

Unlike most real estate purchases, a timeshare does not appreciate in value with time. In fact, it depreciates even worse than cars depreciate. As a result, over 4.4 million people dump their timeshares into the secondary markets each year. 

And those secondary markets are fraught with additional scams. A common practice is they take your deposit and then disappear. Any legitimate real estate agent will wait until the property sells before asking for compensation. 

Scenes like this one of the Sonoran Desert near Phoenix, 
are typical of promotional literature and listings.

Vacation properties sold as timeshares are always located 
in picturesque locales, or areas boasting a generous
number of tourist attractions and recreation areas.
 Both photos and photo below: Bluegreen Vacations

Weigh the options

Before you decide to sell your timeshare, ask yourself if there aren't alternatives. Perhaps a family member who vacationed with you at the unit and loved the resort will be willing to take up the payments. You won't get your original investment back, but knowing a son or daughter will be "inheriting" the place might take the sting out of your loss. However, this approach has its drawbacks as well. 

There is also the possibility of exchanges. But, people who have made trades with people who own shares at other locations are generally disappointed because of the fees and scheduling challenges, even when working with the company that sold them the timeshare. What seems to work best for exchanging is to locate owners on your own who are willing to exchange, rather than working through an agency where fees can accumulate. You can spread the word to family, friends, and neighbors. Here is an article that gives more pointers on how to exchange timeshares. 

Perhaps it will benefit you to rent your timeshare instead of selling it. In the past decade, there's been an increase in the resale and rental of timeshares on the secondary market. In 2017, there was a 76% increase in resale closings. This is a 40% increase since 2013, according to RedWeek. I'm guessing that since then, resales and rentals have increased because of the pandemic, which has magnified the allure of travel, especially vacationing in one place rather than going to multiple destinations.  

Timeshare units are usually part of an extensive complex
such as this one in St. Augustine, Florida, but they are
 sometimes sold as free-standing structures as well, and
marketed as fractional ownership properties.

If you decide to sell

The majority of timeshare resales are made to people who already own one. People who use and enjoy their timeshare and have the capital to purchase additional units are easier to sell to than a first-time purchaser. Under the best of conditions, the national average for how long it takes to sell a home is 65 days. But a timeshare sale will probably take longer. 

When selling, you'll need to educate yourself about common timeshare selling pitfalls. One guideline is not to pay more than $100 as a fee before anything is sold. You'd be wise to work with an attorney who specializes in the sale of timeshares, or else a "timeshare exit company" or a "timeshare cancellation service." 

In America, over seven percent of the population owns some form of vacation property. The industry of timesharing has been steadily on the rise in the United States. Still, it will be difficult to sell your timeshare at a price where you don't take a loss. The reason timeshare sales continue to rise is due to the expert salesmanship of timeshare corporations. As an individual seller, you won't have the ability to host persuasive events and offer those tempting bonuses. 

Timeshare developers continue to create demand for timeshare vacations and build and update properties.  Those snazzy new units will be your competition. As a seller, your ability to merchandise your property as a unique unit is limited because you won't be able to home stage the rooms the way you could as the owner of an actual residence. 

Selling your little slice of paradise will accomplish one thing: getting you out from under those monthly maintenance payments. But if you keep your timeshare, and are one of those people who work 365 days a year, you're more likely to actually take a break and enjoy a change of scenery.

Top photo: Dallas News