I just bought a timeshare at ____________, and I'm wondering if I made a mistake. Should I cancel my purchase?
I've gotten numerous questions like this. Unfortunately, there are a lot of timeshare buyers out there who are doubtful that they made the right decision. While every situation is different, here's my advice...Uh oh... Did I just make a big mistake?
If you still have time, rescind it
Most states in the US have a mandatory rescission period specified by law for timeshare sales. This is basically a cooling off period, and it gives timeshare buyers a chance to change their mind. Not all states have a rescission period, but most do. This can vary from 3 to 10 days, and this may include business or calendar days.
So here's my quick answer to that question. If you just bought a timeshare and you're having second thoughts, this is your chance to get out of it. Rescind (cancel) your purchase immediately.
Here's a link that shows the rescission rules by state. Check it to find out the rules where you bought.
Timeshare companies (in places where rescission laws exist) are required to give you specific instructions for the steps you need to take to rescind your purchase. This should be included with all the paperwork you got with your purchase. Some people have reported that theirs was hidden away. If you're having trouble finding this, try looking for a disk with extra documentation, or look for a hidden pocket on a binder full of paperwork.
Once you find the rescission instructions, follow these to the letter. You want to avoid any loopholes they could use to deny your rescission due to a certain step not being carried out correctly.If you move fast, you can probably cancel your purchase
Don't get me wrong. I'm actually a big fan of timeshares, and think they can be great. So why do I advise rescinding a purchase, without even knowing the details of an individual situation?
Why the timeshare sales system is problematic
The rescission rules were put in place because too many people feel pressured and rushed into buying a timeshare. This is due to the unusual nature of the timeshare sales process. Here's how this can cause problems.
- Unsuspecting buyers. Timeshare companies bring thousands of people into their sales funnel with offers of free stays or other goodies. Many of these people know little about timeshares, and have no intention of spending many thousands of dollars on one. After a few hours in a high-pressure environment with skilled salespeople, however, they wind up buying a timeshare anyway.
This leaves a lot of people scratching their head, wondering "Did we really just spend $45,000 for this? Is that a big mistake?" They have buyer's remorse, and want a way out of it. Rescission laws were put in place to protect consumers, and give you a chance to get out of that deal if you want.
- Rushed decisions. At a sales presentation, people are under a lot of pressure to make a decision now. Really, there's no reason you need to decide on buying a timeshare this afternoon, right away, in the next 2 hours. No matter what you may hear, there will still be timeshares available for you to buy next week, next month, or 5 years from now. Rushing into a decision means you don't get enough time to think about it, but that's what the system wants you to do.
- This is a major financial decision, which can involve a substantial amount up front as well as an on-going obligation. It's not wise to make such a big decision on the spur of the moment. Think it over. Talk about it with your spouse or family members, in an unpressured environment. Sleep on it. It can involve a lot of money, so it's best to make sure this is what you want to do, before you sign a contract.
- Lack of full understanding. Some buyers know little about timeshares when they walk into the presentation. The sales meeting is focused on getting you to sign on the dotted line, and the information provided may be slanted or incomplete. This results in some buyers not really understanding what they're signing up for. Bad plan. It's too big an obligation to enter without a full understanding, so if you have any questions at all, it's best to get them answered before signing a contract.
- No time to research. Most people do some research before they buy a car. They research different models, read reviews, and find out about performance, reliability, and safety. They look at different cars in person, and even do some test drives. They may shop around for new vs. used, and look at prices from different dealers. This is a smart way to go about making a major purchase.
Why should a timeshare, which can be an even bigger commitment, be a rush decision without time to do that research? A wiser approach is to take the time to do your research before signing up to buy a timeshare. You'd do it for a car, so do it for a timeshare, too.
- There is a better way. I know first hand that timeshares can have many benefits, and deliver a lot of fun, cost-effective vacations. But you have alternatives when it comes to buying one. You don't need to buy it via the pressure-cooker sales presentation. You can save a lot of money if you do it differently...
Should you buy a timeshare at all? Which one?
You are the only person who can answer these questions, because every person's situation is different, but here's a tip...
Start by reading our FREE Consumer Information Guide to Timeshares. This will tell you:
- How to Avoid 6 Timeshare Buying Rip-offs
- 7 Costly Misconceptions about Timeshares
- 5 Valuable Benefits of Owning a Timeshare
- 4 Steps to Finding Your Perfect Timeshare
... and more...
After reading this, you'll be better positioned to make a smart, informed decision about buying a timeshare - one you can feel more comfortable with.
What if it's too late to rescind?
If you've missed the rescission period, then you are now the proud owner of a timeshare, whether you have buyer's remorse or not. Your rights to rescind and get out of the deal without penalty are over at the end of the legally mandated rescission period. Once that's time is gone, then you have two choices:
- Sell it. A lot of people who feel like they got pushed into buying a timeshare just want to get rid of it. As long as you have fully paid off the purchase price, you can sell it, but the problem is that if you bought it at one of these high-pressure sales presentations, you're virtually certain to lose a large chunk of your money when you sell. Why? Because of these inherent Timeshare resale issues...
- Make the most of it. Unless your financial situation is such that the maintenance fees are a real burden, I'd recommend this approach. After all, you might as well get as much use out of your timeshare as possible before you sell it and take that loss. Before doing that, take some great vacations. Find out how to use exchanges to travel other places. Learn as much as you can, and use it to the max! This wesite is full of tips to help you do that, and I've got many more in my Timeshare Owner's Guide to Winning the Timeshare Game, a book dedicated to helping people get the maximum value and enjoyment from their ownership. Hopefully you'll discover how much fun timeshares can be! 🙂
Have you purchased a timeshare and regretted it later? Were you able to rescind the deal, or was it too late? Do you have any tips or suggestions for other people? Please leave comments, questions and tips in the Comments section below.