Time shares can make for a great vacation experience — or a massive headache. One company that claims to offer escrow services for sellers of such units is in hot water after the Idaho Department of Finance issued a cease-and-desist order against it.
According to the department, Reliant Escrow Transaction & Coordination purports to be an online escrow company in Boise that works with a company called International Investors. International Investors claims a New Jersey address, though the department says no company by that name exists at the listed location.
“Owners of time-share units in Mexico are contacted by International Investors claiming to have a buyer or lessee for their time-share unit and asking if the owner is interested in selling or leasing their unit,” the department said in a news release. “International Investors then directs the seller to Reliant to close the escrow transaction, and owners are asked to pay fees in advance of closing the transaction.”
Escrow is money held by a third party to protect buyer and seller pending the completion of a real estate sale.
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The Better Business Bureau receives hundreds of thousands of inquiries each year about vacation time shares, time-share companies, and time-share resale and rental marketing companies. These three industries accounted for more than 4,000 complaints to BBB in 2015.
If you own a time share and are considering selling, be cautious of unexpected emails or calls that appear to be attractive offers for buying or leasing. Also keep in mind the following tips from BBB and Federal Trade Commission:
▪ Don’t immediately agree to anything over the phone or online. Check out the reseller with the BBB and regulatory authorities.
▪ Ask if the reseller’s agents are licensed to sell real estate where the time share is located. If so, verify the license. Deal only with licensed real estate brokers and agents. Ask for references from satisfied clients.
▪ Ask how the reseller will advertise and promote the time-share unit. Will progress reports be issued? How often?
▪ Ask about fees and timing. It’s better if the reseller takes its fee after the time-share is sold. If a fee must be paid in advance, ask about refunds. Get refund policies and promises in writing.
▪ Check with the resort to determine restrictions, limits or fees that could affect resale or ownership transfer.
Before you sign a contract with a reseller, get details of the contract in writing, including what services the reseller will perform, for what fees and commissions, the length of time the reseller has to sell the time share, and what recourse you have if any part of the transaction isn’t what you expected or wanted.