By Irene Parker, March 13, 2017
Inside Timeshare has written many articles about timeshare transfer agents, but not often does a timeshare developer offer insights from their perspective. Kristie works in HOA Collections at a west coast legacy resort. Her job can’t be easy, so we appreciate Kristie taking the time to answer our questions.
The timeshare resort asked not to be identified. Attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman’s response to the interview is posted at the end. We reached out to Timeshare Exit Team but they have not responded.
Irene: We are grateful that you have come forward to offer a developer’s point of view. Tell us your biggest concerns.
Kristie: I am excited to have been asked to offer my thoughts concerning this difficult topic and happy to provide any assistance you may need in the future. The biggest problem we see is that only the seller has to sign the deed. One thing that might help alleviate transfer scams is if both the timeshare owner and the resort representative had to sign to sell and receive property. Year to date I have tracked 85 individuals, representing $352,000 in uncollected dues because of what we consider to be fraudulent activity.
We have been able to address many fraudulent practices by working closely with the National Timeshare Owners Association (NTOA). Our establishment met CEO Greg Crist at the TBMA Orlando Conference a few years ago. Since then, we have worked together to stop some of the seemingly never ending fraudulent activity. Greg and his team have always provided positive outcomes. I would encourage every timeshare establishment to reach out to NTOA. They are the best in the industry.
Owners pay transfer companies thousands of dollars to be relieved of their timeshare which in the end often does not relieve them. This negatively affects the current dues paying owner with Maintenance Dues increases due to “Viking ships” that have no intention of paying dues. The term Viking Ships refers to Vikings who put their dead on ships and then shipped them out to sea.
We also work with Dave Heine @ requestmyestoppel.com. His program was set up to try to assist timeshare companies in an effort to stop fraudulent transfer activities by having a place for the purchaser & seller to sign as well as the estoppel & account information pages. His program can be built into any resorts policies. This saves all parties time and money.
Real Life Examples
The following article is about a Waunakee Wisconsin businessman who took over unused timeshares for a fee and will have to refund money to owners and return the timeshares to resorts, according to a consent judgment.
NTOA works behind the scenes in their effort to stop fraudulent transfers.
“Most NTOA members are timeshare owners, but twelve HOAs have joined NTOA as non-profit Associate Members. We assist HOA members when an HOA suspects fraudulent activity by working cohesively with the resort under attack while cooperating with and coordinating regulatory and law enforcement agency efforts,” Greg explained.
“Our HOA members agree to abide by NTOA’s Timeshare Owner’s Bill of Rights and Best Practices Agreement. Most if not all legacy resorts, meaning sold out traditional timeshare resorts, fight fraudulent practices on a daily basis. When a deeded timeshare is not properly transferred, the resort must hire a lawyer to resolve “clouded title” issues. This costs a resort from $200 to $2500,” he added.
Our interview continues:
Irene: Question 1 – Have you seen a dramatic increase in owners seeking release or more children and heirs taking over their week?
Kristie: We have seen both. Individuals seek a release because either they don’t want to burden their children or they have stated the kids don’t have the money or the time. Our resort and our owners have matured. Other reasons for release include age, health, finances or are not able to travel like they used to.
If they do transfer the timeshare to the kids, they have stated it’s because they don’t want to give up the property and because of the wonderful memories. They want to keep the family tradition going.
Question 2 – Have your owners been successful selling their weeks and does your resort maintain a resale department or refer to Licensed Timeshare Resale Brokers?
Some of our owners have had great success selling their week and some have had difficulties. Based on feedback, it seems that it is about 50/50, with half selling on their own and half having a licensed resale company sell it.
When a customer calls we strive to give them all the information they need to make an educated decision. We advise customers about the many frauds and guarantees and to stay away from timeshare attorneys. We advise them of the transfer costs and re recording fees and even provide the paperwork they will need.
Question 3 – What are the some of the problems you have encountered when owners seek release through transfer agents?
We see fraud and incorrect deeds being prepared and recorded. It seems that nine out of ten transfer companies are fraud and when one gets shut down 20 more open up. We have seen timeshares that have been transferred to individuals and companies that keep buying them but then never pay dues.
We have new transfer policies in place for all resale companies. All companies requesting a transfer must provide their company information so we can make sure they are a legitimate company. We also cross reference addresses and phone numbers and if we find that the customer has chosen a resale company that is not legitimate we immediately advise the customer.
Question 4 – Are you familiar with Resort Release, endorsed by FOX celebrities Laura Ingraham and Dave Ramsey? If so, what is your opinion?
I am not familiar with Resort Release but I am familiar with radio hosts Laura Ingraham and Dave Ramsey and how they have endorsed certain resale companies. Unfortunately they are endorsing the wrong companies giving false information to clients. They both get paid to endorse companies to make it sound good regardless of the outcome. They are in advertising.
Most resale companies promise to get an owner out of their timeshare, but if it’s a deeded property they have to transfer the deed. The resale company might be able to get someone out of a contract, but they can’t get our customers out of a deed. The deed must be transferred to a legitimate party and all of our transfer procedures must be met for a transfer to be valid.
Question 5 – Are you familiar with Timeshare Exit Team? One of their agents contacted me and asked me to review their program. What is your opinion of this firm?
I would never endorse or advise anyone to use their services ever!! They specialize and advertise “Cancellation of Timeshare Contracts” but we don’t have contracts. We have deeds. We have chosen not to do business with Timeshare Exit Team because of their inability to follow our procedures and because of the quality of work previously sent to us.
Timeshare Exit Team has been involved with two other timeshare resale companies and/or timeshare attorneys that were involved with transferring 18 of our deeds since 2014 to four individuals that have never paid the dues and are delinquent in the amount of over $18,000. Out of the four individuals we were able to track, we learned that they are all associated with each other thru business dealings, contract employees or registered agents. They must assume that the association will eventually foreclose or take the property back but it is very costly to foreclose and we do not accept property back. It seems as long as they get their money they will make an effort, but if it doesn’t work out in their favor they just transfer the deed to anyone without making sure of whom they are selling it to.
Our newest issue is with the US Consumer Attorneys. They also specialize in Timeshare contract cancellations. They have transferred deeds to the same individuals as stated above that have never paid, and seem affiliated with timeshare Attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman.
We were never notified of the transfers and none of the procedures were followed. This seems to be a repeat of the Timeshare Exit Team accounts all over again. We would be happy to work with any timeshare resale company as long as the procedures were followed.
Question 6 – When you deny someone a release, and they foreclose, with no loan, do you or the collection agency file a lien or report this to credit reporting agencies?
The account is considered delinquent 30 days after the due date. We send a few letters before filing a lien on the property. Once the lien is recorded and the customer has received the final notice we send the account to a 3rd party collection agency. They will report the account to the credit bureau. They work the account and report it negatively for a year. After the year we pull the account out of collections and evaluate the account for litigation.
Question 7 – Are there any transfer agencies you feel are appropriate for owners denied surrenders or are they better seeking help from a timeshare attorney?
We refer our clients to a company called The Timeshare Guys @ 877-987-4897. This is a legitimate resale company that we use all the time.
We never refer our clients to a timeshare attorney. Everyone we have dealt with has taken money from our owners and not been able to perform the work they promised they would do. The timeshare attorneys send us letters telling us that their clients will no longer pay the dues and we need to transfer the deed back to the association. That is not our policy and unfortunately our customer paid thousands for something an attorney cannot do. In this situation we refer our customer to the Secretary of State, or State Bar Association to file complaints to try to get their money back.
Question 8 – If an owner is denied a release, how likely is it a transfer agent will be able to release the owner, as some transfer agents guarantee a release and others offer money back guarantees? Is there such a thing as a guaranteed transfer agent?
If our owner is denied a release, a transfer agent will certainly not be able to get the owner released. If they offer a guarantee and money back they are only deceiving the customer. The board members are the only ones that have the authority to release a client and there are policies that must be followed for that to happen and it does not happen often.
Question 9 – What do you charge an owner for a one week deed-back if your resort accepts the transfer?
Usually we charge two times the amount of the dues plus hard costs. Each owner’s request is reviewed by the board and our owner’s situation is taken into consideration. The board will never agree to transfer the deed just because the owner is tired of paying. This is deeded property like a home and is treated as such.
Question 10 – Are transfer agents necessary? If an owner is denied a release, ads say the owner can get released through a transfer agent. The deed goes back to the developer anyway and the owner can be charged $5000 or more.
Our association would rather deal directly with our owners to avoid the transfer agent fee but it seems the customer reaches out to transfer agent first. If the transfer agents were legitimate they would be helpful because they can prepare & file any paperwork.
Question 11 – Are there any other specific company names you can provide that timeshare owners should watch out for?
Kristie: There are so many timeshare resale companies that just pop-up and think they know what to do. I am not sure how they get lists of owners but they get the names and prey like wolves on consumers. Some of companies we have had the most problems with and would advise owner to stay away from are: Tek Solutions, Vacation Ventures, Resort Access, Tanya’s Timeshare, Superhealth Technologies, Sunshine Groves, Sunshine Clearing, Starla Missions, and Fireside Registry, just to name a few. Then we have the deliberate scams that timeshare attorneys and resale companies transfer to – individuals that never pay and never notify us. We usually find out about things like that when the customer gets the bill or we stumble upon it in the recorder’s office.
Irene: Thank you Kristie for answering my questions. It sounds like the popular timeshare slogan “Vacation Planning Simplified” does not apply to vacation un-planning. I learned a lot from Kristie’s answers. It will take some time to digest. Inside Timeshare will continue to unravel the mysteries of our timeshare world.
Mr. Sussman responded as follows:
While I understand their position, the simple fact is that if the timeshare had any value at all….the resort should be thrilled to take it back so that they can resell it for a profit.
Of course, since the timeshare is a liability and not an asset, the resorts refuse to take back what is essentially a lifetime financial obligation.
Senior citizens are especially vulnerable. When for health reasons or simply lack of income they are unable to utilize the timeshare the resorts have zero sympathy, refuse to take back the timeshare and then report the owner as a deadbeat to the credit reporting agencies.
Shame on them and bravo to any attorney, willing to sue or otherwise punish the resorts for taking advantage of the weak and infirm.
If a resort wants attorney’s in the field of timeshare cancellation to not feel as I do, they should simply agree to take back their timeshare when asked by their owner. Not by the attorney. Why should there have to even be attorneys in this field?
If timeshare resorts maintained a policy that would allow owners who are no longer willing and able to travel out of their timeshare, there would be no need for timeshare attorneys or timeshare transfer companies.
Mitchell Reed Sussman
Attorney at Law
The views expressed in this article are the views of the interviewee. Timeshare transfer agents and the problems resulting from fraudulent transfers – as evidenced by the Department of Justice timeshare scam report linked in our article below – is a subject Inside Timeshare will be closely following.
Inside Timeshare would like to thank Kristie for her time and insight, it gives owners / members more information on this mysterious world called timeshare. Also a big thank you to Attorney Mitchell Reed Sussman, his views on owners being able to hand back without the need of an attorney will, we believe, be welcomed by many on both sides of the pond.
We welcome your comments and stories, contact Inside Timeshare if you have something you would like to share. It you the reader who provides the information which will help others.