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KASS: There’s no after-market for time shares

Q:   I read your regular column. I hope you will treat this topic in afuture article, although I realize it may be less an issue of the law and more issue of economics. And, it’s true that you have covered aspects of this topic in the past.

We do not own a time share property, but the product intrigues me — especially the matter of the apparent difficulty of selling. If a person has little difficulty selling their home or their used car, why is it nearly impossible to market a time share and recover a reasonable part of the original cost?

Furthermore, if I admired a Mercedes, but could not afford to buy a new one, I might well visit the second-hand market. If I coveted a time share vacation property, why is there no similar marketplace for purchase (and at a discount from the original price)? Ed.

A:   Ed. There are many reasons why I don’t believe there is an after-market for time-shares. In my opinion, perhaps the main reason is the distrust that people have of the time share industry in general. I know that industry representatives will object (and I welcome their emails) but let’s face it: too many people have been burned after buying a time share property.

Why? Although the industry has attempted to tone down their sales pitch, the time share salespersons continue to make it sound like a fantastic deal: buy this interest in Florida and you will have access to similar places all over the world. Turns out when you read the fine print, it just ain’t always true.

Equally important, the costs that time share owners have to pay keep rising. You get one or two weeks to stay in the apartment, but your share of the maintenance costs are increasing each and every year.

Yes, it would be nice to have a market-place for time shares. I just did an internet search on ebay and found there were 623 time shares listed for sale, some as low as $1.00. Clearly, if people are so desperate to sell something for only one dollar, perhaps there is no market for every time share in this country.

While I am on this topic, let me once again remind readers: if you want to sell your time share, do not (repeat do not) give any company or any sales person any money up front. There are too many stories of consumers who have been swindled by dishonest people, and perhaps that’s another reason why an after-market marketplace just won’t fly.

Q:     Would it be possible for you to address the legal requirements regarding smoke detectors for condominium buildings and the individual units? Thank you for all of the great advice and direction you give to those of us who live in condominiums. Joan.

A:     Thanks, Joan, for you nice comments. I wish I could give you a definitive response, but the laws on smoke detectors differ not only from state to state but from county to county. The best answer I can give is that everyone should have both a smoke and a carbon monoxide (CO2) detector in your house or apartment.

And follow the advice always given by your local fire department: when you change your time to and from day-light savings, make sure to check your batteries. A detector with a defective battery is completely useless.

I just did an internet search. You can find the legal requirements in your state by typing: Smoke detector requirements in (list your state). To my knowledge, there should be no difference in the condo association requirements from those of your state or local government. Everyone has the same objective: stay safe.



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