How Do I Get Out of My Timeshare Contract?

The 1992 film Glengarry Glen Ross asks some hard questions about the way the pursuit of money affects us. More importantly for our purposes, it’s set in an office which sells real estate in Florida. Ricky Roma (Al Pacino), Shelley Levene (Jack Lemmon), and the other salesmen will do almost literally anything to close the deal.

Many people are like James Lingk (Jonathan Pryce). They are smart consumers who give into extreme pressure and make decisions they regret. But rather than going to the salesman to try and “straighten things out,” it’s always best to see an attorney. That’s the best way to enforce your considerable rights in these situations.

The Unilateral Cancellation Period

Florida law is very generous in this area. James Lingk only had three days to cancel his contract. But if you buy a timeshare in Florida, there is a ten day, no questions asked cancellation period. These are calendar days and not business days, so the time will slip away quickly. Once the period expires, it is much harder to get out of a timeshare contract.

To assert their right to cancel, consumers need only provide written notice. Texts, emails, and other electronic communications may not qualify as “written” notice. Regular mail is better. Twin notices regular and certified mail is usually best. The real estate company cannot refuse to sign for the letter and then claim the period expired, and there is near-absolute proof of delivery.

The contract may specify the information which needs to be in the notice. If not, basic name, property address, date, and an unequivocal “I hereby cancel my timeshare contract” is usually sufficient.

Challenging the Contract

A timeshare contract is a contract like any other one. Even if it says certain things and both parties sign it, it may not be a legally-binding contract. All the elements must be present. Some of the more common points include:

Offer/Acceptance: Every aspect of the agreement must be fully negotiable. That includes things like timeshare location, price, payment terms, and so on. A take-it-or-leave-it “contract” is not valid. Instead, such an agreement is an unenforceable contract of adhesion.
Competency: Excessive pressure to sign, and even some false statements, do not invalidate the contract. But if that pressure includes veiled threats or the false statement concerns a material issue, the contract may be unenforceable.
Writing: Generally, the entire contract must be in a single written document. Furthermore, external evidence is usually not admissible in contract interpretation disputes. The words say what they say.

Other defenses may apply as well, depending on the contract terms and the other facts in the real estate case.

There are other options as well. For example, many people donate their unwanted timeshares and write off the fair market value on their taxes. Such transactions are very complex, especially when it comes to things like Medicaid eligibility. So, you definitely need an experienced attorney to advise you.

Timeshare contracts are not set in stone. For a free consultation with an experienced real estate attorney in Ft. Lauderdale, contact The People’s Advocate. After-hours and in-home visits are available.

7 Factors That Help Determine a Timeshare’s Resale Value

As a rule of thumb, timeshare resales garner about thirty cents on the dollar. That’s very good news if you are a timeshare buyer. But if you want to sell your timeshare, that statistic is very discouraging. Technology plays a part as well, as the rise of Airbnb has deflated many timeshare resale values.

Still, timeshares generally depreciate. So, the sooner you sell it, the less money you will lose. Furthermore, selling early means no more taxes and fees.

Here are a few factors which help determine your timeshare’s resale value.

Supply and Demand

No matter what good or service you are buying or selling, supply and demand is usually the largest single factor. Timeshare companies suppress the secondary market to protect their own profits. So, the number of buyers will always be rather sparse. On the other hand, there are always lots of available timeshares. Many families purchase timeshares and regret it later.

Location

This factor is very closely related to demand. A beachfront timeshare is more valuable than one that is a mile or two inland. But there are other variables as well. For example, the inland timeshare may be within walking distance of a popular restaurant or shopping area. Or, it may be a good place to unplug and get away from it all. So, the location has a lot to do with marketing.

Usage Frequency

This factor is fairly self-explanatory. Biennial timeshares are roughly twice as valuable as annual timeshares. Of course, some of the other listed factors may come into play here as well.

Deed or Right to Use

Most timeshares are right-to-use properties. Therefore, instead of buying the appreciable real estate, potential buyers will purchase a right of possession at certain times. That’s not a very marketable asset. On the other hand, if you have the property deed, you are in a much better position to negotiate a favorable sales price.

Type of Use

The most valuable timeshare resales involve floating use agreements. For example, if the property is near a beach, the timeshare owner may be able to pick any week in June, July, or August. Fixed use agreements are next. If the owner can only use the timeshare during the second week in July, most people will not pay top dollar. Timeshare points arrangements, such as Marriott and Disney properties, are usually the lowest value.

Unit Size and Type

This factor is partially objective and partially subjective. A three-bedroom timeshare is almost always more valuable than a one-bedroom unit. Be sure you do not fall for the same scam than ensnared Khan in a 1998 King of the Hill episode. He bought a mitad timeshare, not knowing that “mitad” is “half” in Spanish. Unit type is a little more subjective. Some people prefer standalone units, like cabins, while others prefer connected units, like condominiums.

Affiliation

Some people will pay more for a name-brand laptop than an off-brand laptop even though they are both probably made in China. By the same token, some people will pay more for a name-brand timeshare than one with no such moniker even though they are in other ways exactly the same. Not all buyers are like that, but it takes some time to find a buyer who is willing to overlook the lack of a name brand.

Many factors affect your timeshare’s resale value. For a free consultation with an experienced timeshare attorney in Fort Lauderdale, contact The People’s Advocate. Convenient payment plans are available.

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