Dear Harry: I hope you will be able to shed some light on time-shares. I have been an owner of a week's time-share in Brigantine, N.J. I have been trying to sell it for more than five years. When I bought it in 1987, it was easy to make an exchange to a different location, but it has become almost impossible today to get my first or second choice. To make matters even worse, every year the owners boost the maintenance fee. They sometimes hit us with a special assessment, which they demand in a short time period. This year, it has reached the point where it hardly compares with the rates at major hotels. How will my credit be affected if I just refuse to make any further payments? Is there some way out of my ownership? Can I give it away? HELP!
What Harry says: I know of only two cases where owners of time-shares are happy with what they have: one in Florida and another in North Carolina. Every other owner I have ever come across is unhappy. There are many reasons for this unhappiness, some of which you have cited. Selling them has always been a problem. Part of that is because the operators have a huge supply, and you are competing with them. For example, an owner of a 100-unit property has 5,000 weeks to sell, allowing two weeks for maintenance. Just walking away can lead not only to a blemish on your credit, but to a costly legal action. The best I can suggest is that you try newspaper ads both here and in New York. And for our other readers, I urge you to be ultra-cautious and very suspicious before you buy a time-share. *