If you buy a timeshare and regret it, most states have "cooling-off" laws; these laws let you get out of a timeshare contract if you act quickly, usually within three to ten days. Washington's cooling-off period is usually seven days after you sign the timeshare agreement. But if you don't receive a disclosure document, the agreement is voidable until you get the document and for seven days after that.
Also, the state provides some protections for timeshare purchasers. For instance, in most cases, Washington law requires any individual offering timeshares to register as a timeshare salesperson with the state. The law also prohibits sellers from making untrue or misleading statements when trying to get you to buy a timeshare.
But you still need to be cautious when buying a timeshare. And you should understand that if you take out a mortgage loan to buy a deeded timeshare and stop making the payments, the lender, usually the resort developer, will probably foreclose.
In addition, timeshare owners typically must pay annual maintenance fees and special assessments. If, as an owner, you don't pay the fees and assessments, you might face a lawsuit for a money judgment or a foreclosure of your timeshare. (With a right-to-use timeshare, people generally sign a contract and agree to make monthly payments. While a developer may foreclose a deeded timeshare, a right-to-use timeshare is typically repossessed, which is a different legal process than a foreclosure.)
Again, Washington law provides a timeshare purchaser seven days to cancel the deal after signing the timeshare agreement. (Wash. Rev. Code § 64.36.150.)
Also, under Washington law, a timeshare seller has to give you a copy of the timeshare disclosure document before you sign the purchase agreement. (Wash. Rev. Code § 64.36.150.)
Any person who offers or sells a timeshare must provide a prospective purchaser with a written disclosure document before the purchaser signs an agreement to buy a timeshare. The disclosure document provides information about the development, including:
If you don't receive the disclosure document, you can void the agreement until you get the document and for seven days thereafter. (Wash. Rev. Code § 64.36.150).
To cancel, you must provide written notice of the cancellation either by mail or hand delivery. (Wash. Rev. Code § 64.36.150).
Timeshare salespeople are known for using hard-sell tactics and misrepresentations to get you to make a quick decision about buying a timeshare. Washington law protects timeshare buyers by requiring most timeshare sellers to register with the state and prohibiting deceptive practices and false statements in timeshare sales.
Also, timeshare sellers sometimes offer gifts or prizes to get you to attend a sales presentation. Washington law requires such sellers to actually give you the gift or prize if you attend a presentation.
In Washington, any individual offering timeshares must be registered with the state as a timeshare salesperson unless the timeshare offering is exempt from registration or the timeshare salesperson is licensed as a real estate broker or salesperson. (Wash. Rev. Code § 64.36.070.)
Washington law allows for disciplinary action against a timeshare salesperson if the salesperson has engaged in dishonest or unethical practices in the timeshare business. (Wash. Rev. Code § 64.36.090.)
Washington law makes it unlawful (a class C felony) for any person in connection with the offer, sale, or lease of any timeshare in the state:
Timeshare sellers are notorious for getting people to attend sales presentations by offering free gifts or awards. Sometimes, timeshare sellers then fail to provide the gifts or prizes to potential buyers after the presentation. Washington law bans this practice.
In Washington, timeshare sellers must provide a bond, letter of credit, cash depository, or other security arrangement that will assure delivery of a promised gift before advertising or promising a free gift, an award, a prize, or another item of value as a condition for attending a sales presentation or touring a facility. People who are promised a gift, but don't receive it, and then prevail in a lawsuit, are entitled to treble the stated value of the gift, prize, or award, plus court costs and reasonable attorneys' fees. (Wash. Rev. Code § 64.36.320.)
In Washington, if you take out a loan to purchase an interest in a deeded timeshare and fail to make your mortgage payments, the lender (again, typically, the developer) might foreclose.
In addition to monthly mortgage payments, timeshare owners are ordinarily responsible for maintenance fees, special assessments, utilities, and taxes, collectively referred to as "assessments." You might also face a foreclosure in Washington if you fall behind in the timeshare assessments.
A few of the various options to avoid a timeshare foreclosure include:
If you want more information about timeshare laws in your state or need assistance canceling a timeshare, consider talking to a real estate attorney. Contact a foreclosure attorney if you're facing a timeshare foreclosure and have questions about the process or your options.
Need a lawyer? Start here.