Fifteen families have reported on how they were convinced they could rent timeshares to cover maintenance fees and loan payments. Today Abdur Rashid becomes the 11th Westgate buyer to share his experience. Other developers besides Westgate, are also accused of employing sales agents who pitch renting to cover costs, including The Colonies at Williamsburg (Vacation Village), Exploria, and three others – a total of six developers. Two families were able to work with their resorts to resolve their dispute.
If you feel that you have been harmed by predatory timeshare sales and lending, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) encourages you to file a complaint following instalment loan prompts, even if your loan is paid off.
If you are filing a complaint about a resort that is not in the CFPB’s database, they advise that you Tell Your Story using this link:
By Abdur Rashid
It’s reassuring to know that not just timeshare members are concerned about deceptive timeshare sales. The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) in America published an article in March of 2020, warning about the pitfalls that can come with timeshare sales and exits:
Unfortunately, the current landscape of the timeshare industry has exposed significant inadequacies in protection for those seeking to purchase, lease, or exit their timeshare contracts.
I was told I could rent out my unit for income, but I did not enter into default because of this. I was not aware this was unfeasible until reading the experiences of others. I refused to pay for a product that was far removed from what was presented. I share my experience to advise prospective timeshare buyers to take a picture of the display unit you are shown when purchasing so that you can compare that unit to what you are assigned when you actually book a stay.
In my case, the unit I was assigned to when I booked my first Westgate stay, was uninhabitable. There was no way to know by reading the contract that I had been baited and switched. I purchased an every-other-year unit, so it was at least a year before I could book. I found a similar Westgate BBB complaint:
The hotel property is dated, unsafe, and unsanitary. We did not feel comfortable staying in the room with stained floors, chipped furniture, and molded mildew bathroom stalls. The front desk manager informed us that the building we were in was renovated in 2006, it’s clearly unacceptable to expect people to stay in these poor conditions. I request a FULL refund, we walked in the room and walked right out. Best regards, ****************
The home of Westgate owner David Siegel
The Queen of Versailles documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqDreqlPe98
Is a Timeshare Foreclosure Considered Mortgage Foreclosure?
According to one mortgage lender: Per HUD mortgage lending guidelines, a timeshare is not treated as a regular foreclosure and is treated as consumer debt.
The purchaser of a timeshare has no interest in real property, only a right to stay at a property, at a future time. I am a Real Estate Developer. Based on how Westgate operates, my timeshare purchase should not be defined as a residential mortgage because a timeshare is not a residence. Since I purchased in 2015, I have never gotten member meeting notices, nor was I informed that Westgate sold my note to Wells Fargo in 2017 and back to Westgate in 2020. No documentation was ever sent. I did not receive any notification of foreclosure proceedings or notifications of late payments. I stopped making payments in 2017. I purchased in 2015.
My Westgate sales agent, Zaharia, explained that he knew a woman from New York who bought a Westgate unit, then posted “timeshare for rent” signs around town, and “made a killing.” This influenced my decision to purchase an every-other-year week at the Villas for $10,865.
According to Tom Tubbs, a licensed timeshare resale broker, who spent decades working in the timeshare resale business, “It’s illegal for a real estate company to pay a referral fee if they are not a licensed real estate agent.” Tom’s expertise has been instilled in his daughter Jessica O’Daniel, who has assumed her father’s role in the industry at Red Bud Timeshare. https://www.redbudtimeshare.com/
During the sales presentation, I was shown a beautiful villa. My warranty deed states that I purchased a Westgate Vacation Villa Phase XVII, but what I was assigned to when I first booked a week in 2017 was an outdated villa. I could not sleep in it. I was moved twice. The experience was so bad that I did not bother to go back in 2019.
I attempted to contact Westgate. No one returned calls. I received a letter from Westgate Collections in February of 2021 demanding payment. I received a letter from Westgate’s Legal Department stating my note has gone into foreclosure proceedings and that I owe them over $12,000 at 17.99% interest. My credit score, which has always been good, dropped at least 100 points. My credit report states I have a 30-day late payment on a mortgage and upcoming foreclosure proceedings. I have never been late on any of my mortgages. I just found out it was Westgate reporting this almost four years ago.
Westgate offered me a deed in lieu of foreclosure in May of 2021, but their agent explained that I would still be left with the mortgage obligation. He attempted to up-sell me. My three solutions: pay the back fees to bring my account current (no guarantee that Westgate would take the unit back), upgrade, or accept the deed in lieu. According to Rocket Mortgage:
A deed in lieu agreement is an arrangement where you give your mortgage lender the deed to your home. Homeowners agree to deed in lieu agreements to avoid foreclosure. A deed in lieu of foreclosure can release you from your mortgage responsibilities and allow you to avoid a foreclosure on your credit report.
I asked Westgate multiple times for my original contract and the Public Offering Statement. I did not receive these items in 2015. They refused to send it, nor would they send me a copy of my original note. I have disputed the credit report with Experian and Equifax. I have written complaints to the CFPB, the Florida Attorney General’s office, the FTC, and the Florida Dept. of Business Professional Regulation.
NEVER finance a timeshare – it is impossible to sell a timeshare with an outstanding loan. If you are lucky enough to obtain a loan cancellation, you face the next battle when you receive a 1099-c from the IRS saying you owe taxes on a worthless product because your loan was cancelled. There is little to no secondary market. With interest rates ranging from 12% to 19% (higher if credit card financing), a timeshare can quickly become a financial nightmare. Timeshare attorneys advise not to pay in full for a timeshare because obtaining a refund is far more difficult than obtaining a loan cancellation.
The bottom line – if you do buy a timeshare – buy one on the secondary market.
Related Reports and Articles:
Westgate’s VP of Mortgage Services stated in court documents that Westgate has a default rate of approximately 30%. Court documents also state: Westgate had not sought deficiency judgments as a matter of policy and is not entitled to under Florida law and the law of almost every state. Westgate could change its policy to pursue judicial foreclosure and seek deficiency judgments.
The Federal Trade Commission’s Top Ten Scams list for 2020 lists Timeshare Sales at #9 and Timeshare Resales (fake buyers) at #10.
In 2015, Finn Law Group, in Largo, Florida, settled a class-action lawsuit against Bluegreen Corporation because of reporting delinquent timeshare accounts as foreclosures. As part of the settlement terms, foreclosure entries were deleted from over 11,000 timeshare owners’ credit accounts.
Ten Westgate Families: https://afterinsidetimeshare.com/?p=440
Reigning in Repeat Offenders – A lecture by CFPB Director Rohit Chopra: https://afterinsidetimeshare.com/?p=700
Thank you Abdur for sharing your experiences with Westgate, as our title banner suggests, there is a pattern of complaints, this is becoming very apparent. Since AIT has been running Westgate stories, we have received so many similar or identical complaints, we have published only 11 of these. Many are reluctant to share, this is understandable, we have heard so often from relatives that they had no idea their parents were in such a mess until after they have died, either with the timeshare or the debts accrued due to the scammers. This is unacceptable, the industry needs to put an end to these deceptive practices, and take responsibility for what their sales agents say, it is after all their product.
That is all for this week if you have any comments please leave them on the relevant article, for all other enquiries please use the details on the contact page.
Have a great weekend, Baby Dog is still sleeping it off after a day at the beach, where he finally went for a paddle.