Consumer Title Resource | Since 2009!

Lease End Buyout: Understanding The Basics

If you’re leasing a car, what should you do if that lease is about to end? Maybe you’re a few months away from your lease termination, maybe have a few payments left, or maybe it’s pretty much done. You have three options for disposing of that vehicle, in most cases. Every lease is a little different but this is how most lease contracts have been created over the years. 

Option #1: Return the car back to the dealer

Option number one is you can bring the car back to the dealer, drop off the keys, and walk away. As long as you are under the maximum mileage and you have no major wear and tear or damage, you’re off the hook. You bring in the car, drop off the keys, and walk away. However, keep in mind if you do that, you might be walking away from hundreds or thousands of dollars in equity that you didn’t even know you had. The dealer is not going to tell you that though.

Option #2: Trade it in for a new vehicle

Option number two is you can trade it in for a new vehicle. Now, be very careful if you’re trading it in that you understand the difference between a trade-in and a turn-in. Here’s why– with automotive leases, the way it works is you have a guaranteed buyout at the end of your lease. You have a fixed price that you’re allowed to buy that car for at the end of your lease. That price served a few purposes. First of all, it was used to reduce the amount you had to finance. For example, say you bought a $30,000 car and the dealer figured in three years that car is going to be worth $12,000. What they would do is they would take that $12,000 and take it off of your financing right off the bat. They would basically give you a $12,000 down payment so you only had to pay the $18,000 difference between what you’re paying for it and what it’s worth in three years. 

So you make payments on that $18,000. At the end of that term, if you wanted to pay the amount you could pay it and you’d own it, or you could just give it back to them and they use that value to pay the money that they reduced your price from the beginning. Now, how did they figure that value? What they did was they based it on what they thought the vehicle was going to be worth in three years and they’ve got to be pretty close. If they guessed too high, now they’re stuck with the vehicle. If they guessed too low, your payments are going to be too high and you won’t buy the car. So they have to be pretty accurate and they use historical records, book values, projected depreciation, and all kinds of factors. For the most part, they’re pretty good at this. However, in the last two years, vehicle prices and used car vehicle prices have skyrocketed. Many cars are actually worth more now than they were when they were brand new. We see cars selling all the time as used cars two or three years old with 20,000 miles for more than the original sticker price. 

So if you have a vehicle that was leased, let’s say that $30,000 vehicle and they projected the value was only going to be $12,000. What happens now if the market has changed in your vehicles worth $20,000 instead of $12,000? Well, guess what? You still have the option to buy it for $12,000. Meaning that if it’s worth $20,000, you can buy it for $12,000 and either sell it for $20,000 and pocket $8,000 in profit. Or you can trade it in for $20,000 minus the $12,000, that would put $8,000 towards your next car, but don’t let the dealer swallow up that equity. If you just turn in and buy a new vehicle, they’re going to keep that $8,000, and they’re going to buy it for $12,000, let you buy the new vehicle just for whatever the price was, and not apply that equity toward your new car. Unless you really pay attention to the paperwork, you may not even know that even happened. 

Option #3: Lease buyout

What happens if you want to keep your car? Well, that’s good because now you’re buying a car for $12,000 that if you went somewhere else to buy it is worth $20,000 in today’s market. So pay very close attention to your lease. Look at your contract. More than likely you have a firm option fixed price to buy that car at the end of your lease that was in your contract. Can’t change it. It doesn’t matter the mileage condition if you’re buying it because it’s your car. Now the other advantage of buying that car is you’re buying a used car that you know the history you know the prior owner, you know everything about it. How lucky is that? Most times you buy a used car you’re buying a pig in a poke. You don’t know where that car’s been. This car you know where it’s been, plus if for some reason you are over on mileage or there’s damage, you buy it that doesn’t come into play. You don’t have to pay a penalty if you’re buying the car. Now, there may be a couple of things to keep in mind.

First, some leases require that if you’re selling it at the end of the lease you have to buy it. You can’t sell it to somebody else right away. You have to buy it first and then resell it. You know, that’s a little bit scammy but if that’s in the contract that’s what it is. You may also have what’s called a disposition fee meaning that you have to pay $200 or $300 to dispose of the car to buy it. Your contract will determine that, if it’s not in your original lease contract a dealer can’t add it later. So make sure that if the dealer is adding fees for you to buy your own car that they were in the original contract. If they’re not in there they can’t add fees. Some dealers even will go and say they have to certify your car because you’re buying it from them. They claim they have to make sure it’s safe for the road so you end up paying them $1,000 to give you a certification. Check with your local statutes to find out what the laws are in your state. There have been many dealers who have tried to mark up cars for people to buy their own cars and found out you can’t do that. But once you do it, you’ve agreed to it, you may not be able to get that money back. So check your contract. 

Start doing this early start doing this month earlier than the lease ends because if you’re pressed for time in the end you may have to accept a contract that maybe you don’t have time to research. Also, look at financing. If you go to the dealer, they might hit you with higher financing than if you go to your own bank or credit union to buy your car and you might be able to do it that way. Make sure that if you do buy out of your own car, you get the title transferred because that lease car is not titled in your name. It’s titled in the name of the lease company. So once you buy the car you want the title to be transferred from the lease company to you as the owner, make sure you get that title in your hands. We get a lot of people that contact us that say, Hey I bought my vehicle and I never got the title from the lease company. Now it’s a hassle because what if the lease company is out of business three years later or they don’t know about it? You want to get that title transferred immediately into your name. Let us know your questions, and put your message in the comments, but this is a good way to get a great deal on a vehicle that you already know a lot about.

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Order Vermont Title LoopholeOrder Deceased Owner Title TransferOrder Bonded Title ProcessOrder Abandoned Vehicle ProcessOrder Prior Owner ContactOrder Lien Release Request LetterPGlmcmFtZSBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vYXBwLmFjdWl0eXNjaGVkdWxpbmcuY29tL3NjaGVkdWxlLnBocD9vd25lcj0xOTQ4ODEyNiZhcHBvaW50bWVudFR5cGU9MjMwNjY0MTAiIHRpdGxlPSJTY2hlZHVsZSBBcHBvaW50bWVudCIgd2lkdGg9IjEwMCUiIGhlaWdodD0iODAwIiBmcmFtZUJvcmRlcj0iMCI+PC9pZnJhbWU+PHNjcmlwdCBzcmM9Imh0dHBzOi8vZW1iZWQuYWN1aXR5c2NoZWR1bGluZy5jb20vanMvZW1iZWQuanMiIHR5cGU9InRleHQvamF2YXNjcmlwdCI+PC9zY3JpcHQ+

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