The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of hard-working Tennesseans — from work to sporting events to vacation travel. For some Tennessee timeshare owners, the pandemic has caused them to rethink their purchase of a timeshare or at least explore their options when it comes to exiting their timeshare.
Vacation timeshares give visitors the use of a vacation home for a limited, planned period throughout the year. In Tennessee, timeshare salespersons must be licensed through the Tennessee Real Estate Commission (TREC) and can be verified at verify.tn.gov.
The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance’s (TDCI) Division of Regulatory Boards and TREC want consumers to understand their options when it comes to all aspects of timeshare ownership and turn to TDCI staff with their questions, concerns or complaints.
“With travel limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic and some consumers re-evaluating their household budgets, some timeshare owners may understandably have second thoughts about purchasing a timeshare,” said TREC Executive Director Caitlin Maxwell. “The TREC team is here to assist timeshare owners and others who might be exploring the purchase of a timeshare property. We want consumers to make informed choices when it comes to timeshares and always use a licensed timeshare salesperson.”
In a new blog post, Executive Director Maxwell details the changes being seen in the timeshare industry as a result of the pandemic. Additionally, new testimonial videos highlighting real timeshare owners’ experiences with timeshares can be found here.
For timeshare owners who want to explore selling their timeshare, remember:
- Timeshare owners should remember that working directly with your timeshare company is oftentimes the easiest and least costly option to exit the timeshare. You can also ask them for potential discounts or waiving of some of the fees. In addition, many timeshares have programs that help you through the exit process or can refer you on selling your timeshare altogether.
- In Tennessee, a timeshare purchaser has the right to cancel the sale for 10 days from the date of signing the contract if the purchaser made an onsite inspection of the property and 15 days if there was no inspection. The cancellation notice must be in writing (Tenn. Code Ann. § 66-32-114).
- Another option is to ask for a temporary break from payments on the timeshare. Depending on the terms of your contract, timeshare owners may be able to rent your timeshare out for a year or two while you are not using it. The developer might also give you the option to defer the timeshare payments for a period while it is not being used.
- Timeshare owners can learn more about lower-cost exits through the American Resort Development Association (ARDA) www.responsibleexit.com. Responsible Exit gives owners a selection of vetted and many times free or lower cost exit options. The website provides information from individuals who are trained at helping timeshare owners understand your timeshare and how to properly exit it.
Avoiding Timeshare Exit Scams
During the pandemic, TREC staff have fielded an influx of complaints from consumers who hired a third-party to help them exit their timeshare. Instead, the scammers took advantage of the consumers and left them dissatisfied. To avoid timeshare exit scams, remember:
- Ask for a valid driver’s license from anyone you are working with for reference. Take a photo of their ID for your records.
- If you are exploring hiring a third party to help you exit your timeshare, be sure to check their history with the Better Business Bureau to verify they have a trusted track record.
- Beware of upfront money requests. Scammers will often ask you to open credit cards in order to pay them upfront fees and charges. If this occurs, it is a red flag to consumers that they are being scammed.
- Scammers often target older Americans who are embarrassed to share with family and friends that they have been scammed. This group is particularly vulnerable as they typically have available savings accounts setup that scammers can target and tend to lead the demographic of timeshare owners and those at high risk for contracting COVID-19.
- Be sure to watch out for a high volume of documents when signing an exit agreement with a third party because scammers can use this tactic to confuse consumers on what they are agreeing to and try to make it seem like the document is legitimate.
For additional consumer tips and other information please visit our website at www.tn.gov/commerce/regboards/