According to the heavy hitters interviewed for this article, the business of timeshare resales is, for the most part, moving out of “the dark side of the moon” and starting to see the light of day. The ARDA-ROC (American Resort Development Association Resort Owners’ Coalition) website states that the organization is committed to working with the industry, reputable sellers, lawmakers and law enforcement officials on issues pertaining to the secondary market. And from all indications, the efforts are starting to pay off.
Clark Rowley-Chaney, RRP, is president of the Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers Association, an organization of licensed real estate professionals who hold strong business ethics, and place the interests of clients before their own. “Our professional representation offers a safe and legitimate platform in which the public can rely upon to buy and sell timeshares,” Clark told Resort Trades. “Our members come from a broad spectrum of experience in the timeshare industry, bringing several decades of experience to share with timeshare consumers.”
Clark believes resorts are realizing that there is a legitimate secondary market, and if they are not able to provide the seller with a buyback program of their own, it is becoming obvious they need to either partner with a broker, or work with a broker to help these owners who cannot either pay their maintenance fees or have had changes in their lifestyles. He says they are also educating owners on who to work with and who not to work with.
“Management companies, media and various industry organizations are offering more education regarding the secondary market, and letting the public know about the legitimate method when it comes to selling their timeshares. For example, sellers should not pay upfront fees. A secondary broker should work much like selling their home. You hire a broker and create a contract (listing agreement). Once the week is sold and the broker has seen the sale through the escrow process is when they have earned their commission.”
Dave Heine is co-owner and COO of Weeks4Less, and he told us that resort operators and developers are starting to pay more attention to owners looking to sell their timeshare interests. “I believe that, in the past, their interests were absorbed by other matters at hand. Certainly, a developer who was paying sales and marketing overhead was loath to forfeit a good lead to a reseller,” Dave said. “And resort managers have historically been tasked with having to serve multiple masters, from overseeing the front and back offices, plus housekeeping, landscaping and grounds and maintenance teams. Add to these responsibilities the necessity of dealing and communicating with a homeowner association and resort guests’ daily demands, and I’m in awe of so many of them who handle it with total aplumb.”
Dave commented on the growing number of aging resorts. “At one time they might have been the belles of the ball, but now many of them are looking like they were jilted at the altar and never moved forward. Failure to keep their properties pristine, coupled with the aging of their owners, have made many of these appear to be on the brink of the precipice. Suddenly, resort operators realize that a resort’s failure could kill or at least seriously wound the industry. So now we are finding there is greater interest on their part in finding and recommending to their owners the sound players in the resale industry. Resorts need entities like ours who make no false promises and do not set false expectations, to help them educate consumers about the value of the product, and to provide a viable advertising platform – one which markets itself to the online vacation-seekers, and which can assist in handling the closing of the title properly.
“We are able to handle all aspects of the sale, including conducting the title transfer through its affiliated entities, in accordance with state law. Resort operators need to be watchful when recommending a resale company to their owners. Questions to keep in mind include: Does the resale company handle the transfer lawfully? And does the company charge a reasonable advertising fee? There are still resellers and transfer companies out there who are shady operators, and resorts owe it to their long-time owners to check out any company to which they refer their owners.”
Gregory G. Crist is the CEO of the National Timeshare Owners Association, and he believes that through a combination of owner education, regulatory enforcement and cooperation within the timeshare community to identify and stop fraudulent resale operators, a legitimate secondary market is poised to surface.
“There are significant resources on the Internet where owners can not only check out a good company, but find real transaction and resale data to help them appropriately market resale properties. Just last month, Sharket.com, a timeshare research firm released data on every U.S. timeshare resort to help stop timeshare resale fraud. This is a game changer in my opinion,” said Gregory.
“There are a few simple rules to follow. First, a legitimate resale company is never going to solicit an owner with a buyer waiting and ask for an upfront fee to sell the timeshare. This is the major red flag. Next, good resale companies are also not afraid to post proper business licensing or post a BBB logo that reflects a good business record and reputation. Finally, legitimate businesses will have good knowledge about the vacation ownership market and an owner’s specific property. The bad guys just want an owner’s credit card number. The NTOA posts guidelines and holds free educational seminars for owners.”