Are timeshares right for you?
HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Time shares can seem like a good idea. Pay an up-front fee for a standing reservation at your favorite vacation spot. But a lot of time share owners are going to extreme measures to get out of their agreements and there's a reason why.
Irene Smalls' New York City timeshare has been on the market for nearly a decade. She paid $24,000 to use the room one week a year, but has not come close to breaking even selling it.
"I've been getting these really low-ball offers," Smalls said.
That's because so many timeshares are currently for sale. One well-known timeshare resale site, redweek.com, says "for sale by owner" listings have increased more than 120 percent over the past year. Timeshare Users Group also has seen the same trend.
"When you have an industry that has far more sellers than buyers, it's automatically going to depress the sale price," said Brian Rogers with Timeshare Users Group.
Timeshare buyers pay up front for the rights to use the same hotel, resort or condo year after year. Some say they were led to believe their investment would even increase in value. But the reality is very different.
Many can no longer afford the required maintenance fees and they're forced to sell at outrageously low prices!
"You're finding people who have already tried or already discounted their timeshare up to 99 percent off, and in many cases, giving it away for free," Rogers said.
Former Orlando timeshare owner John Chase sold his timeshare for one dollar! He could no longer afford the resort's annual maintenance fees, and if he didn't pay, it would have affected his credit record.
"It was a big relief to sell it even at a dollar," Chase said.
The American Resort and Development Association would not appear on camera for the story, but says timeshares are "not a real estate investment" and "its value comes from using and enjoying it."
Timeshare consultant Lisa Ann Schreier says most timeshares don't increase in value. Instead, you're paying in advance for a place to stay.
"If you have to use the word investment, think of it as an investment in your future vacations," Schreier said.
If that sounds like a fit for you and you don't mind the maintenance fees, you can pick up a timeshare for cheap.
If you're trying to get rid of a timeshare, experts suggest a few other options: you can try renting it out, list it with a broker, or ask the resort if they will buy it back or see if they have their own resale program.
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