Smart Buy: Second-Hand Car Leases

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If you’re in the market for a new car (new to you, that is), now may be the best time to take over someone else’s lease.

LeaseTrader.com, a popular online service that helps drivers swap leases, recently crunched some numbers and found that more drivers are turning in their leased cars with extra miles. For example, the average number of miles left over on BMW 3 series vehicles had increased from 856.7 in 2008 to 972.1 this year. Similarly, the miles left over on Cadillac CTS cars had increased from 960.3 in 2008 to 1,104.1 this year.

The typical lease allows drivers to get 12,000 miles a year, which means that based on these stats, many are foregoing the equivalent of a month’s worth of miles. According to LeaseTrader, the primary reason that people are exiting their leases early is because of job loss.

“Right now on LeaseTrader.com there are lots of people looking to get rid of a lease they're no longer driving much because they've lost their job or have been unemployed for a while,” John Sternal, vice president of marketing communications for LeaseTrader, told MainStreet. “For these people it makes sense to try and unload their lease.”

LeaseTrader offers users the option to buy and sell off the remaining portions of a car lease. So if a driver has signed up for a two year lease and decides to give it up after 6 months, users can buy up the 18 months leftover.

It’s a sad world when people don’t feel financially secure enough to drive their own cars, but there is a bright side to this trend. “This also means these vehicles are available with the unused miles still left on the contract,” Sternal said.

Consumers can log on to sites like LeaseTrader and Swapalease to search for specific car models based on how many months are left on the lease. Sternal recommends looking at the number of months left and how many miles have been used to determine if the driver has driven more or less than 1,000 miles per month. “If the number of miles remaining averages out to more than 1,000 for each month, odds are this person has not driven the vehicle as much as he or she thought they would.” Not only does that mean you might end up getting more miles for the money, but the car itself probably has suffered less wear and tear.

This option looks even better now as a recent report has found that the average price of new cars is up by more than $1,000 this year.

—For a comprehensive credit report, visit the BankingMyWay.com Credit Center.

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