Whelan Legislation Aiming To Boost NJ Tourism Industry Clears Senate

Bill Would Make It Easier To Obtain License to Sell Timeshares

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan which would help boost New Jersey’s tourism industry by making it easier for people to obtain a license to sell timeshares was approved today by the full Senate, receiving final legislative approval.

“Ensuring the viability of the Jersey Shore – a $3.3 billion industry that sustains thousands of jobs in local communities – must be a top priority to help the state recover from the economic downturn, particularly after Hurricane Sandy’s devastating effects damaged our state’s tourism industry,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic. “The timeshare industry is a great way to stimulate the Jersey Shore’s local economy, not only by encouraging tourism to the region, but also by creating new jobs for New Jerseyans. Helping residents to acquire timeshare licenses in a timely and cost-effective way can give a boost to a growing industry.”

The bill, S-2152/ A-3227, would establish a new license for timeshare salespersons. Currently, timeshare sales can only be negotiated by licensed real estate brokers, salesperson-brokers, and real estate salespersons, or by owners of timeshare interests. Requiring those interested in selling timeshares to obtain a real estate license can slow the growth of the timeshare industry, preventing people from joining.

Senator Whelan notes that by establishing a timeshare salesperson license, many people who may not have the time or money to acquire a real estate license will be incentivized to acquire this limited license. Additionally, many municipalities that depend on tourism and vacationing can benefit.

“This is about balancing the need for buyers and sellers to have licensed and trained individuals brokering their timeshare deals, and ensuring those interested in selling timeshares are not disincentivized with costly and time-consuming requirements in order to obtain this limited license,” said Senator Whelan. “Timeshares are not equivalent to brokering real estate. Those training to sell timeshares should receive training specific to this product.”

To qualify for a license, a person must provide evidence to the New Jersey Real Estate Commission that the applicant: is at least 18 years of age; has a high school diploma or its equivalent; has undergone fingerprinting and a criminal history record background check; has successfully completed a 30 hour course of study in timeshare sales prescribed by the New Jersey Real Estate Commission and conducted by a licensed real estate instructor at a licensed real estate school, which would cover the following areas of study: basic contract law; sales practices and procedures, sales ethics, and basic theory of resort timesharing; and has successfully completed a timeshare salesperson licensing examination administered by the New Jersey Real Estate Commission.

As of August 2012, there were 30 states that require a person to have a real estate license to sell timeshares. Ten states require a person to have a timeshare salesperson license. The remaining 10 states either have no license requirement or have no timeshare resorts.

According to the American Resort Development Association, the timeshare industry – from sales to salaries to taxes – added $70 billion to the US economy in 2011, including employing 493,000 people. The study, conducted by Ernst & Young, reports that the travel and tourism industry is creating jobs 26 percent faster than the rest of the economy.

Senator Whelan decided to sponsor the legislation after being apprised of the problem by representatives of FantaSea Resorts, a condominium and hotel resort company and owner of The Flagship in Atlantic City that currently employs 90 real estate agents in South Jersey.

“This measure will have an impact on the economy by expanding the state’s timeshare industry that will not only bring in more tourists, but also create job opportunities for New Jerseyans,” said Bruce Kaye, CEO of FantaSea Resorts which controls the Flagship, Atlantic Palace and La Sammana in Atlantic City and Brigantine, and is the largest non casino employer in Atlantic County. “By changing licensure requirements for timeshare salespersons, our organization will be able to expand and grow in New Jersey. I can foresee us expanding our staff size substantially and creating new jobs here in the Garden State.”

This bill was based off of a recent Pennsylvania law. The bill was approved by the Assembly earlier this month with a vote of 68-10-0. The Senate approved the legislation today with a vote of 36-4. It now heads to the Governor.

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