Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Housing Counsel: Disposing of Property No One Wants

Written by Posted On Monday, 06 June 2005 00:00

Question: How does one dispose of property that no one seems to want? I am in my 80's and I've owned a one-week time share in Florida since 1995. It is a nicely furnished duplex apartment that my wife and I bought for only $12,000. We thought it would be a nice place for a vacation. Unfortunately, my wife passed away several years ago and the time-share does not fit into our family's vacation plans.

The apartment has been rented for a couple of years with a net annual income that just about covers the real estate tax and the maintenance fees. This past year, however, I was unable to find a tenant.

I want to dispose of this time-share unit. However, no one seems to want it. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: Good question. If it is any consolation to you, you are not alone. I've heard of many people in your same situation.

There are a number of options you should consider.

  • Donate the property to your favorite charity, you may even receive some tax benefits. The charity (whether it is a church or some other non-profit organization) may be reluctant to take this on because they do not want to be in the same situation, but it does not hurt to try. You should contact some of the charitable organizations in the area where your time-share is located; they may be able to assist.

  • You can leave the property to be disposed of through your will on your death. This is passing the buck to your heirs, but I see no reason why this should be a deterrent. Your heirs are younger, and they may actually be interested in using the time-share. They will also have more energy to try to find a way to dispose of the property.

  • You can try a fire-sale. Typically, in time-share situations, there is only one real estate broker who handles all sales. Tell that broker that you will pay a higher commission -- and will sell the property at any cost. I suspect that some speculator may be interested in this approach, and by offering the broker a larger than usual commission, the broker will have greater incentive to try to assist you.

  • You can stop paying the real estate tax. At some point in time, the local taxing authority will sell the property at a tax sale. This will probably affect your credit rating, but if that is not a concern to you, it is another possible method to consider. However, you should find out what the procedures are for these tax sales in Florida, you will want to make sure that the local government cannot go back after you if the sale does not take place.

  • You can also stop paying the maintenance fee to the time-share association. Again, at some point in time, that organization will have no alternative but to take legal action. Generally, there are two avenues that can be taken when an association member is in default:
    1) foreclose on your unit, or
    2) file suit against you for the moneys that are owed.

    This approach can backfire, however. Even if the property is sold at a foreclosure sale, if it does not sell for the amount that the association is owed, they may still go after you in a court of law for what is known as the "deficiency" -- the difference between what you owe and the amount that was generated at a foreclosure sale. Also, the association probably has the right to add a lot of additional charges on your bill, such as auctioneer costs, advertising costs, and legal fees. Once again, you should learn the procedures that are available to the association before you venture down this route.

  • You can try to raffle off the time-share. Some states prohibit such approaches, by taking the position that it is a form of "gambling." I don't really recommend this approach, but it may be another possible way to dispose of the property.

You have raised an interesting -- but difficult -- question. I welcome other suggestions from our readers.

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Benny L. Kass

Author of the weekly Housing Counsel column with The Washington Post for nearly 30 years, Benny Kass is the senior partner with the Washington, DC law firm of Kass, Mitek & Kass, PLLC and a specialist in such real estate legal areas as commercial and residential financing, closings, foreclosures and workouts.

Mr. Kass is a Charter Member of the College of Community Association Attorneys, and has written extensively about community association issues. In addition, he is a life member of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. In this capacity, he has been involved in the development of almost all of the Commission’s real estate laws, including the Uniform Common Interest Ownership Act which has been adopted in many states.

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