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"My parents purchased a timeshare more than 30 years ago,” began the email from Kim Seney, a recent retiree from Northern California. Over the years, I've gotten so many questions like this that I knew what was coming next. Seney was hoping to help her widowed mother unload the timeshare and the $1,200 in annual fees that came with it. The family hadn't used the timeshare, outside of Reno, Nevada, in years.
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Seney had done her research. She'd looked into selling it on eBay and donating it to charity, to no avail. The next step looked to be a timeshare exit company, but the cost was high. “I'm uncomfortable paying $10,000 to get out of this thing,” she said.
She isn't the only one. Almost 10 million households own some sort of timeshare, according to the American Resort Development Association. About 850,000 of them (based on a pre-pandemic estimate) would like to sell within two years. Some, like Seney's mother, Joann Johnson, 85, can't travel anymore. Others can't afford the management fees that continue for as long as you own the property, whether you use it or not. Still others are frustrated that they haven't been able to swap their property as promised. If you've ever wondered why you see so many ads for timeshare exit companies — businesses promising to help you get out of your contract — this is why.