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The Timeshare Secondary Marketplace: The Rest of the Story

Market Differences Aside from the obvious, there are two major differences between traditional real estate ownership and resort vacation ownership. First, traditional real estate is a necessity item and vacation ownership is a luxury item. Second, in traditional real estate, the consumer seeks the product, and in timesharing, the consumer is enticed to the product. These two facts alone allude to the difficulties of selling timeshares. In traditional real estate, there is both a primary market where the residential or commercial developer takes the risk of marketing and selling; and a secondary market where the individual owner bears the burden of marketing and selling. Owners in the secondary market often choose a real estate professional for assistance.

These two markets comprise the total traditional real estate marketplace. Both are clearly understood, accepted within the industry and readily accessible to the consumer. Traditional real estate is usually a local (neighborhood) market and has a distinct marketing advantage over the timeshare market. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the most effective medium for selling homes is an inexpensive yard sign on the seller's property. This is not an option when selling timeshares because the resorts do not allow it.

Typically, purchasers of residential real estate preview the property. This option is not always available to timeshare purchasers because many resorts refuse to cooperate with reselling owners and brokers. Due to the discretionary nature of vacation ownership, leisure is the motivation not necessity, as with traditional real estate. When qualifying traditional real estate buyers, the buyers generally want a certain subdivision or a certain part of town. Timeshare buyers usually have several generic vacation choices such as snow skiing in Colorado, the beach in Cancun, or a golf course at Hilton Head. This is a much harder sale to consummate. and for a lot less money. In traditional real estate, the two biggest complaints by sellers are (1) the price was too low and (2) it took too long to resell. Timeshare is no different. Resale Difficulties There is a growing demand for a viable timeshare secondary market.

Lifestyles change, children grow up, people divorce, encounter financial hardships or just get tired of their timeshare and want to sell. Today, the timeshare industry is older and larger, with more timeshare owners. Even though the market has matured, many resort developers choose to ignore and leave to chance the resale difficulties faced by their owners. If the owner's resort offers no resale program, there are very few options remaining for the owner to resell the property. As in traditional real estate, timeshare buyers often presume that they will have at their disposal a secondary marketplace. More than half of U. timeshare resorts have no on-site resale program. The same resorts offer no resale program whatsoever and many advise against the use of other programs. From the 1970's (when the timesharing industry was still young) through today, owners find themselves in the predicament of wanting to sell their units but having few choices to do so.

Many timeshare resorts are simply not equipped to handle resale services for their owners; and neighborhood real estate offices have neither the expertise nor the desire to enter this specialized field of real estate. In the beginning, the only option available to owners was to sell it by advertising it themselves or give it away to a friend or relative. It is literally cost prohibitive for the consumer to advertise timeshare property in the manner necessary to get crucial national and international media exposure. The cost to advertise in USA Today with a minimum four-line, four-day classified ad is $1,136. Credible Resale Services In many instances, without timeshare resale specialists supporting the secondary market where individual owners can operate, resort foreclosure can be the end result. Projects must rely upon the owners paying maintenance fees to support its operations once the developer sells out the resort. A strong resale market is essential to the timesharing community. In order for the industry to thrive, timeshare owners must have access to credible outlets through which they can resell their property. The ability to resell is critical for the industry to prosper. Today, there are several suitable timeshare resale assistance options available to timeshare owners.

Some of the more pro-active developers and Home Owners' Associations (HOA's) have resale programs available on site to accommodate their owners who want to sell. However, only about 40% of resorts offer on-site resale services. Most on-site resale service programs are not independent of the resort. The resort subsidizes such programs. The HOA on-site reseller may obtain free inventory to sell (repossessions and foreclosures) -- thereby pocketing not simply a commission but the entire sales price. These on-site resellers receive the marketing advantage of access to renters, exchangers and those owners who desire to sell. Many on-site resellers require that the HOA provide office space, utilities and a high visibility location. Regrettably, this “marketing advantage” is actually paid for by the individual owners' maintenance fees. It creates a conflict of interest when a timeshare broker sells on his own behalf and at the same time, takes listings from owners.


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