Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Real Estate Agenta Aids In Timeshare Cast-Offs

Pat Pendleton is a bit of a softie. Her Surfside Beach real estate office is full of stray cats that she did not have the heart to turn away.

Pendleton has the same problem when it comes to distraught timeshare owners - the hordes of financially anemic consumers deserted by the industry. They call her in tears. They come into her office and beg.

"There are so many injustices in the business," she said. "They think I'm the greatest thing since white bread."

This is why Pendleton, at a spry 64 years old, has not hit it big by flipping million-dollar beach homes. She spends almost all of her time collecting timeshare cast-offs and matching them up with savvy buyers, bargain hunters happy to snap up a time share unit for thousands of dollars less than developers are selling them for. Not all of Pendleton's sellers are thrilled to hear how much money they will lose on their investment, but Pendleton is a realist about the dismal resale value of time shares.

"I say 'I can either tell you the truth or tell you what you want to hear,' " she explained.

Pendleton started selling real estate in Columbia 25 years ago. She moved to Myrtle Beach in 1987 and, as a relatively green broker in a new office, she started handling time share sales. A few years later she incorporated Pendleton Realty Inc., now a six-person business that almost exclusively handles fractional properties.

"I guess it just became my niche," she said.

Building the business has not been easy. Developers don't want to lose market share and don't want word to get out that their timeshare units can be had for 30 percent to 50 percent less, on average, than the prices they set. They often don't let Pendleton on their properties, and they try to scare consumers away from the resale market by telling them "used" timeshares don't come with the same perks and reservation clout.

"It's just lies really - baldfaced," Pendleton explained.

And then there is the constant image battle. For years, the timeshare resale industry comprised boiler rooms of swindlers calling owners and promising to flip their unit at a profit if they pay a few hundred dollars up front. Most of those shops never advertised any units, let alone sold them. Lawmakers and attorneys general have cracked down on some, but not all, of those operations.

Meanwhile, Pendleton has kept shuffling around her cramped strip-mall office; punching on a speaker-phone to listen to the sobs of another potential client; spinning through her vast Rolodex of time share fans; and shooing stray cats off of her cluttered desk.

"I've never had a complaint from a buyer," Pendleton said. "And I don't know how many timeshare developers can say that."

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