MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - If someone made the offer for you to get a vacation home for free, or for just a dollar, you'd jump on the deal, right? Well, in this economy some timeshare owners are resorting to just that, and giving their vacation homes away, but in some cases, they still can't get rid of them.
What gives? And why wouldn't you want to jump on an offer like this?
Irene Smalls' New York City timeshare has been on the market for nearly a decade! She paid $24,000 to vacation in her timeshare one week a year, but has not come close to breaking even selling it.
"I've been getting these really low ball offers," insists Smalls.
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. TimeshareUsersGroup.com has seen the same trend according to its director, Brian Rogers.
"When you have an industry that has far more sellers than buyers it's automatically going to depress the sale price," explains Rogers.
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.
In this economy 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," says Rogers.
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," sighs John Chase.
The American Resort and Development Association would not appear on camera, but it told us 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," suggests timeshare consultant Lisa Ann Schreier.
If that sounds like a fit for you and you don't mind the maintenance fees, you can pick up a time share for cheap. But not from timeshare owner Irene Smalls. She's holding on to her unit, hoping the market improves.
"My interest is recouping as much of my money as I possibly can," says timeshare owner Irene Smalls.
If you're trying to sell a timeshare experts say try renting it out, ask the resort to buy it back or see if they have a resale program. Try listing it with a real estate broker. But never pay a company who calls you and claims it has a buyer lined up for your unit and asks you to send them closing costs in advance, that's usually a scam.