Q: How do I buy Wyndham points on the resale market? What factors should I consider?
Buying Wyndham points on the resale market is a great way to save money. However, Wyndham put restrictions on resale timeshare contracts bought on the resale market. Wyndham doesn’t allow you to use the points for VIP status, Club Pass bookings, or converting points to Wyndham rewards. If you do not currently have points that were bought directly from Wyndham, you also do not have Plus Partners. However, you can use them at any Club Wyndham resort in the country, and in the RCI exchange system. Many people have no issues with not having those perks. Be sure to research what these limitations mean for you.
There are many third-party resale sites. One of the biggest is eBay. I have personally bought resale points from eBay many times, and have had no issues, but I also know what to look for in an eBay seller. You always want to look to see how long the seller has been on eBay. If their account is new, it’s either because they are new, or they opened a new account. Maybe they opened a new account because they needed more than one, or their old one was disabled by eBay for violating terms. So, pay close attention to the eBay seller details, and also look at what else they are selling. Do they have many listings or just a few? Only having a few could indicate they are not as knowledgeable with either selling on eBay, selling timeshares, or both. If you are not familiar with how a timeshare purchase is supposed to go on eBay, it’s best to stick with a seller who has been on eBay for a while and has more than a few listings. Of course, you have feedback as well. When buying on eBay, feedback is important to review before placing a bid. Keep in mind, that most people do not leave feedback until the process is completed, myself included. The problem though is that timeshare systems can often take months to complete the transaction, and that’s not the seller’s fault. The buyer only has 60 days to leave feedback. That’s not enough time to wait for the transaction to complete. So not everyone is going to have a ton of feedback. Just look for patterns. If you see negative marks, do they have something in common? Communication is a common complaint. If the seller doesn’t communicate, it understandably frustrates the buyer. This causes them to leave bad feedback. If you are unsure, do your research on the seller. There are many Facebook groups dedicated to buying and selling timeshares, and a few are specific to Wyndham. You might be able to find someone who has worked with that seller before.
The end of the year is usually the best time to buy resale points, because people are getting their yearly assessments, and decide they want to sell their timeshare to get out of the maintenance fee cost. Or they have decided they are done vacationing for the year and are ready to get rid of their timeshare. I got one of my contracts in November for $1. That same contract sold for $510 in May, and the buyer paid closing costs. Timing is everything. At the end of the year, it’s a buyers’ market. During the vacation season, it’s a seller’s market. That applies to both the resale and retail markets. With all that said, here are just some of the things you need to look for in the listing, besides price:
- How much are the maintenance fees? Maintenance fees are usually due every month or every year, and they usually increase every year. On very rare occasions, they can stay the same or go down. So, when looking at a timeshare listing, determine if you can afford those maintenance fees on top of what you already have, or your current budget? Some only list yearly, so you will have to do the math if you pay monthly. If you already own, the payment plan should stay with whatever payment plan you currently have. Some sales guy may tell you that the fees are different for resale contracts. This is NOT true. They are the same for every owner who owns at the resort it’s deeded to.
- Who is paying the closing costs? If the buyer pays, how much are they? Many sellers will offer to pay closing costs as a way to entice the buyer to buy the timeshare. This is not always a good thing. If they need to entice you to buy, then it means they are having a hard time selling it. Maybe because it’s the wrong time of year to sell it, or because no one wants that resort. If they have a hard time selling it, then YOU may have a hard time unloading it, if you ever want out. Still, some may entice you with paying the fees, because they want to move it fast.
- Who is paying the transfer fee? Wyndham charges a $299 transfer fee. This is not usually included as part of the closing costs, but you can ask the seller if there are any additional fees not listed. When buying on eBay, the seller is supposed to disclose ALL fees upfront. They cannot add a fee after the fact. If they fail to disclose a fee, you can back out without penalty. Any reputable reseller will not forget to include a fee, or if they do, they will allow you to cancel the sale without penalty.
- Is it annual or biennial? Biennial is usually listed as odd or even years, or may use the acronym EOY which stands for “every other year”. They are all the same thing. Biennial maintenance fees are usually cheaper because they are paying 1 year of dues (for the year you use your points) split into 24 payments, instead of 12. The rate per 1,000 points is the same, whether you have annual or biennial. For easy math, if an annual contract for 100,000 points cost you $500, a 100,000 biannual contract will cost you $250 a year. You are paying every month, even in your off years. For EOY contracts, you can only use the timeshare on the years designated. In between you have nothing. These are a good ideal if you only take vacations every other year. However, if you want to travel on those “off” years, you will have to borrow from a future year (reservations within Express booking window only), depositing to a future year (you have to use those points, in that year), or just rent from another owner.
- How many points is it? This will usually be listed in the title but it should be noted here, as something to consider. Do you need that many points? Do you need more than that many points? Be sure to have an idea of how many points you want before you start to shop. Using the directory will help you determine where you want to stay. From there you can determine approximately when you will travel there. The points chart will tell you how many points you will need for a certain room, at that resort, at that time.
- Does the seller have a recent estoppel letter? You can contact them, and ask them to provide one. It will provide some valuable information such as how many points the contract is for or what week it’s for, how many points are left for that year or what if the first available usage, how much the maintenance fees are, and if there is money owed such as back maintenance fees or a loan balance. This letter should save you from nasty surprises like it having zero available points, maintenance fees higher than advertised, or months’ worth of back dues. Just make sure it’s recent. If it’s from a previous year, and the dues listed on the listing match the previous year, ask the seller to confirm the current year dues. You could also try calling the resort to find out what the maintenance fees are.
- What is the home resort? Will you be traveling there or using it to exchange for another resort? Either one is ok. Some buy at a resort they have no intention of staying at because the maintenance fees are low. I have a couple of contracts like that. I can use my low maintenance fee points, at a resort where the owners pay much higher maintenance fees. I use the same amount of points the resort owners would use, only my maintenance fees are less. However, if you want to go to Daytona bike week or Mardi Gras, you may want your home report to be in that location, so you have first dibs on booking it. Be sure to browse through the directory to see what options are out there.
- What are similar listings selling for? Be sure to look at the sold listings on eBay, and check to see the final bids on the sold auctions. Make sure you review the auction description to see what the fees are, if any, that were charged to the buyer. A contract could have gone for $1, but the buyer could have paid $500 on top of that for closing costs. Or they could have spent $500 but paid no fees. Be sure to factor in all the costs when comparing them. If a 100,000-point CWA contract went for $500, plus $100 in fees, the total cost to the buyer was $600. That works out to .006 cents a point or $6, per 1,000 points. Do the math on a few others. For biannual contracts, divide the points by 2, because you only get to use them every other year, where annual is every year. So, if a biennial 100,000-point contract went for $100 plus $100 in fees, that’s a total of $200 to the buyer. That works out to .004 cents per point (based on 50,000 points) or $4 per 1,000 points. Usually, biennial contracts go for a lower rate, but if it’s a large biennial, it may go for more than the smaller ones. Try to compare contracts that are close in size. Once you figured out the going rate, then you can decide what your max out of pocket will be. When you go to bid on something or make an offer, be sure to account for those closing costs and fees.
- What is the fine print? Some companies will add some special fees or have some special payment requirements. Always read the fine print.
Finally, if something seems “off” with a seller or the transaction, trust your gut. There are TONS of resale contracts for sale. If the one you want is not available at that time, it will be later. Just be patient. A little patience can net you a really good deal. There are a lot more contracts out there, then there are buyers. Don’t get caught in a bidding war on eBay. Set your max bid and walk away. Don’t come back until it’s over. If you get outbid, no worries. Another one will come back around again.