Ask RedWeek / October, 2018

Will Marriott buy my timeshare back?

I have owned several Marriott Vacation Club properties for years, but it's time to sell them since our family's travel plans are changing. Does Marriott buy timeshares back, and if so, would they give me a decent price?

Short answer: Yes, Marriott is the latest major developer to introduce a buyback and take-back program for longtime owners who have intervals that Marriott wants to acquire. But, unless you have a prime week and don't really care how much you get back for it, you may want to take the time to explore your other options.

Here is a snapshot of the program and how it compares to owners' other options for selling their Marriott timeshare.

Marriott's Quiet Roll-out

Following the lead of Wyndham, which announced the industry's first timeshare exit program in 2015, Marriott quietly introduced an exit program for Marriott Vacation Club (MVC) owners in good standing. "Quietly" means the company did not officially announce it; instead, MVC just posted news of the exit program on its Web site, where it was recently discovered by members of the Timeshare Users Group (TUG).

Under an online headline that says, "Marriott Vacation Club Exit Specialists are Here to Help," the company acknowledges that "sometimes even longtime owners need to sell their timeshare due to life circumstances. Reduced finances, fixed incomes, declining health and other reasons may make it difficult for owners to get out and use their timeshare to explore the world.

"When you work with us to plan your timeshare exit, you'll receive information and guidance from a company you can trust. We're here to help you understand the process, every step of the way."

Trust is a key factor that is often missing in the secondary market, where third-party relief companies regularly solicit owners to hire them to get rid of timeshares. Some of those relief companies are outright scammers whose only goal is to pocket $3,000 to $5,000 in upfront fees from owners.

MVC's exit program has two prongs: a buy-back program as well as a take-back or deed-back service. Both are straightforward and efficient (in terms of time and ease of use). They also provide benefits that owners cannot always count on getting from third-party resale companies: certainty of a legal exit and relief from scammers.

MVC Will Buy Back Intervals at High Profile Resorts

RedWeek contacted MVC's owner services, then the resale department, to get details on both. Here are some examples of how the programs work, using three real-life examples of Marriott timeshares owned by one RedWeek member.

Example #1: Maui Ocean Club, Lahaina Villas, annual floating deeded week in a two-bedroom, two-bath, oceanfront unit. MVC recently offered to buy this interval for $10,200, minus a $500 administrative fee and Hawaii state tax of 7.25%. The offer applies to the 2020 usage year, which means that the owner would still be responsible for all 2019 fees and usage rights.

How does that compare to selling on the open market? Prices for identical intervals on RedWeek.com typically range from $29,000 to $40,000. The average selling price on RedWeek for this unit is $22,326.

Example #2: Marriott's Waiohai Beach Club, Kauai, an every-other-year (EOY) floating deeded week in a two-bedroom, two-bath garden unit. MVC offered $3,250, minus the $500 administrative fee and Hawaii tax.

For comparison, identical weeks are listed for sale on RedWeek between $3,950 and $9,500. The average selling price on RedWeek for an EOY week at Waiohai is $4,678.

Example #3: Marriott's Newport Coast Villas in California, annual floating week in high (Platinum-summer) season, two-bedroom, two-bath ocean view unit. MVC offered $5,000 minus the $500 fee, for a net of $4,500.

Identical units are listed on RedWeek.com for $3,590 to $11,000 (the highest posted asking price is $24,000, but that is more than double most of the listings). These units typically sell on RedWeek for $8,415.

The buy-back offers include the following caveats: they are guaranteed for seven days; closing should occur within 120 days. One other detail: MVC is NOT buying back any 2019 intervals. The company's offers apply to 2020 for annual ownerships and 2021 for every-other-year intervals.

Interesting to note if you're not using your timeshare: Marriott resorts are among the most popular resales and rentals on RedWeek, so you'll have no problem getting visibility if you choose to sell it, or rent it out in the meantime. Marriott does retain the right-of-first-refusal to match any offer an owner receives for their unit on the resale market, including any sales on RedWeek.com. So, they may end up buying your timeshare anyway.

MVC Accepts Deed-Backs for Same Year of Usage

Marriott's surrender or deed-back program has operated, below radar, for several years, usually in the context of taking back properties from owners in default because of hardship (financial, medical, or familial). As one Marriott representative said, "this is not something we advertise." The terms are simple: IF the company wants to take back ownership of a specific deeded week, MVC will prepare the documents and close the transaction within 90 days.

Uncertain, still, is how the company plans to deal with exit programs for owners who bought Destination Points, rather than deeded weeks. Points owners belong to a trust that owns multiple properties; they do not own deeds to specific properties.

For comparison, owners of Marriott Destination Points have sold their stakes on RedWeek for $3.50 or more per point. Marriott sells points on the retail market, at sales presentations, for three times that amount.

Wyndham Says Its Ovation Program Has Helped "Thousands" of Owners Divest their Timeshares

The timeshare developer industry has been slow to adopt exit programs despite the growth of the secondary market, where thousands of owners have sought ways to get rid of their timeshare contracts. RedWeek's 2.6 million subscriber base, a large percentage of owners, is a testament to the size of that market where owners try to sell and/or rent their intervals online.

The industry's dynamic started to change four years ago, when Wyndham, the world's largest timeshare company, introduced its "Ovation" exit program for longtime members of Club Wyndham. Diamond Resorts unveiled a similar sounding "Transitions" exit program two years later. Both programs are selective, meaning the companies don't take back all intervals --- only the ones they want, which typically means deeded weeks at high-demand destinations.

As part of RedWeek's research into Marriott's exit program, we asked Wyndham for an update on Ovation. In an e-mail, Wyndham offered the following:

"Wyndham Destinations reaffirms its commitment to putting our owners first, by providing simple, safe and secure exit options for those owners who have fulfilled their vacation ownership goals," said Jeff Zorovich, senior vice president of owner services and club management. "Since the introduction of Ovation in early 2015, we helped thousands of owners exit their ownership with peace of mind, and without any additional costs."

Consumers Want Practical Exit Solutions

The emergence of profitable exit-and-relief companies — some of whom are being sued by developers for interfering with timeshare contracts — explains why the industry is beginning to consider exit solutions for their owners. The other factor is just plain good business that works for owners and developers. Many longtime owners simply want viable solutions for getting out of their timeshares. Developers who offer legitimate exit programs, meanwhile, can reclaim valuable inventory at high-value resorts at low or no cost which they can sell, all over again, at current retail prices for their points programs. A workable, consumer-friendly exit program also enables brand-name developers to protect their reputation from the advertising claims of third-party exit-and-relief companies that denigrate the whole concept of timeshare ownership as part of their pitches to solicit owners who are desperate to divest their timeshares.

One remaining overriding question: Will Marriott, which recently bought a competitor company, Interval Leisure Group, former owner of the Hyatt, Vistana (Westin and Sheraton), Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis timeshare companies, extend Marriott's exit-strategies to those high-end companies? Since the ILG purchase just completed Sept. 1, only time will tell. RedWeek will keep you posted, since the answer to that question will impact millions of timeshare owners.

More Information

About the author

This answer was provided by RedWeek's Chief Correspondent, Jeff Weir. Jeff is a California-based journalist who has covered California, Congress, and the White House. He also has roots in Silicon Valley, where he directed public relations and marketing programs for high-tech companies. He is also a timeshare owner and member of RedWeek.com.

4 Comments

  • Avatar for susanm430
    susanm430
    Oct 09, 2018 (1 week ago)

    Could you comment on if there is a buy back program for Diamond Resort members?

  • Avatar for jeff_reports
    jeff_reports
    RedWeek Team
    Oct 09, 2018 (1 week ago)

    Diamond Resorts introduced a "Transitions" program two years ago, but it is not a full-scale exit program. Diamond will take back intervals that it wants to resell. It will not take back all intervals. The program is discretionary on Diamond's part. It is only offered, so far, to members of Diamond's Club. It is not available to members of other clubs that were acquired by Diamond (Intrawest, among others). Owners who want to surrender their Diamond weeks should call owner services for information and details. Diamond does not offer a buy-back program. It advises owners who want to sell their timeshares to use timeshare realtors and third-party listing companies (such as RedWeek). Diamond also enforces, periodically, its ban on owners who try to rent their units.

  • Avatar for david1985
    david1985
    Oct 09, 2018 (1 week ago)

    Great report. I own a platinum week at Marriott Newport Cost Villas. Don't plan on selling at this time Wondering if also the perks go along with the new owners? Like what you get with the Marriott Vacation Club.

  • Avatar for michaeld1351
    michaeld1351
    Oct 12, 2018 (5 days ago) • Updated Oct 12, 2018 03:23 PM

    I own a prime week at a Starwood property (Vistana) in Princeville Kauai do you know who or how I might sell my property now that they 2 companies have merged?