Wayne Stroman of Conroe is known around town as a local realtor and successful businessman. Both are true, but what many people don't realize is that his company, Stroman Realty, is also the self-proclaimed largest resales broker of timeshares in the world. What's more, it is the subject of a raft of consumer complaints and is involved in numerous lawsuits across the country.
Within the industry, it is well-known that timeshares are a bad investment and that reselling one is a painstaking process at the end of which property owners are lucky to get about half of what they originally paid. But customers say nobody at Stroman Realty told them that. What salesmen did tell them -- just before collecting an upfront fee of several hundred dollars -- was that they could unload the unwanted property quickly for top dollar.
"It's basically a bait and switch," says Dan Parsons, president of the Houston Better Business Bureau. "They're luring people in with the idea that they can get themselves out of mistake number one by entering into mistake number two."
Several states including California, Florida and Arizona are locked in litigation with Stroman Realty, trying to protect their residents and bar the company from operating without a real estate license. So far they've been unsuccessful, but several key court decisions are expected soon.
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Although even the harshest of critics admit that Stroman Realty may well be operating within the lines of Texas law, they question the company's ethics. Read more about it in this week's feature, “The Getaway.” -- Chris Vogel