If you’ve attended a timeshare presentation and have decided to make a purchase, it is wise to take your time to read and understand all of the timeshare contract documents you will be signing. In fact, you have the right to do so. This contract-signing scenario will likely be taking place after several hours of sitting through a sales pitch – when you’re tired and vulnerable – but remember how much money is at stake here. Don’t rush through the process and make a hasty decision just to get it over with. Take your time, read the documents, and make a well-informed decision. Here’s what to look out for in the contract itself:
- Public offering statement – Along with your purchase contract you will receive a legal document called a public offering statement, which is a very detailed history of the project that contains extremely important information such as owner rights and maintenance fees. Do yourself a favor and read this document! It will outline everything you need to know about what exactly you’re purchasing so you aren’t surprised later.
- Rescission or “cooling off” period – Each state has a different rescission period (usually around 5-7 days) that allows you to cancel a timeshare contract and (sometimes) get a refund. Rescission is dependent on the state laws where the timeshare property is purchased, which is not necessarily your home state. Each set of documents accompanying a timeshare sale will include a form explaining how to rescind. It will probably be titled something like “Notice of Mutual Right of Cancellation of Time Share Purchase.” More information about timeshare rescission here.
- Verify verbal promises – If the salesperson made certain promises during the presentation, ask that it be included in your contract before you sign on the dotted line. If they refuse to put their verbal promises in writing, take this as a sign about what kind of company they are. Unless you’ve signed the purchase contract, you can still walk away at any time.
- Obtain copies – Do not walk away without copies of ALL contract documents. Some salespeople at the resort might offer to mail copies to you later so you don’t have to worry about carrying them along the rest of your vacation…don’t fall for this! Take the documents and review them once again when you get home. If you decide to change your mind, you might still be within the legal rescission period.
- For a list of further detailed questions you might want to ask yourself before purchasing a timeshare, see this article. Many answers to these questions will be found in the public offering statement document.
No matter where your head is at with purchasing a timeshare, beware of the pressure you will likely experience during and after the presentation. If you are at all unsure about signing the paperwork or have questions about what it is you’re purchasing, don’t sign! You have the legal right to take time to think about a decision that requires such a considerable financial commitment. If you feel uncomfortable or see any red flags, listen to your instincts and just walk away.