Upfront fees. Anyone trying to sell their timeshare has probably heard this term before. That’s because consumer advocates, government agencies and the Better Business Bureau constantly warn: “Never pay upfront fees. Ever.” And they’re right.
The process of asking for upfront fees in order to secure a sale is one of the most common scams in the timeshare resale market today. These fees can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to many thousands.
The typical pitch goes something like this: “I’ve got a buyer who absolutely loves your unit. She’s willing to pay your asking price of $15,000. She’s very excited and wants to complete the sale immediately. All you have to do is pay our 10 percent finder’s fee of $1,500 and we’ll close.” However, once you pay the price, you’ll likely never hear from that company again.
You’re probably thinking, if everyone knows not to pay upfront fees, why do timeshare owners continue to get burned? It’s mostly because scammers are so convincing—and so tricky. First of all, they don’t use the term “upfront fees.” Rather, they’ll come up with an otherwise legitimate sounding expense that you as the seller need to pay in order for the sale to go through. Closing costs, taxes, title search fees; the list goes on. Even if the expense is valid, you should never pay it until your sale is complete. Think of it like this: If you were selling your home, and you hired a broker to handle the listing, you wouldn’t pay that broker anything until the house was sold and the closing was complete, right? Well, the same goes for your timeshare. But timeshare owners are often so desperate to get out from under their annual maintenance fees that they abandon common sense.
Here’s a simple test we like to recommend to timeshare owners, which they can use to tell if a reseller is genuine. When a reseller asks for an upfront fee, offer them 5% more–but only after the sale closes. If they don’t accept immediately, you’ll know it was a scam. But what if they do accept? We’ve never heard of this happening, although it would probably be worth the extra money to know the sale is real.
Just remember, a legitimate company does not charge you any fees until the sale is complete. So keep your head and never pay anyone before your timeshare is actually sold. Otherwise, you’re likely being scammed. In other words, your deal will fail and you will never see that money again.
If you have any questions about getting rid of your timeshare, we’ll help find the best option for you. Call us at 1-800-965-6565