Buyer beware? San Diego County offers timeshares for $100

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - It sounds like a deal of a lifetime - guarantee a weeklong vacation at a coastal resort every year - for a one-time payment of $100.

The county of San Diego is auctioning off nearly 900 timeshares, some in areas like Del Mar, Solana Beach, Carlsbad and downtown for as little as $100. Timeshares can also be transferred to out-of-town hotels, one year at a time. 

The county expects many to go at the initial offering price. 

A timeshare is when a person shares in the ownership of a property with others, so that each gets a week of vacation per year. Many of the timeshares were repossessed after the Great Recession, when owners failed to pay at least five years of property tax. 

"For one week of family bliss in a vacation once a year, this may be the opportunity for as little as $100," said Dan McAllister, the county treasurer-tax collector. "But it is a buyer beware sale."

San Diego attorney Dan Eaton said there are many risks to buying a timeshare, and getting out of one can be very difficult.

"If you think you're just buying a $100 timeshare and you've got access to the timeshare for life without any further cost, that's a huge mistake," Eaton said. 

Timeshares include annual fees - including maintenance - that can get very expensive.

"If you stop paying those fees, they can foreclose," Eaton said. "It's an interest in real property."

At the Solana Beach Sand Pebbles resort - starting bid $100 - annual fees range from $414 to $712 depending on unit size. And some of the timeshares don't include some parts of the year. 

Allison Russell, the resort's property manager, said it's vital people do their due diligence before buying. She said the resort books up early, and owners need to reserve their week sometimes far in advance.

Eaton said timeshares can work if you plan to go to the same resort year after year, but with so many options now available - including airbnb - it may be best to keep that $100.

The county auction is online and runs from May 4 to May 9. Registration begins April 2.

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