First, you need to know the cost of buying out your lease. Read the fine
print of your contract and look for the “purchase option price”. This
price is set by the leasing company and usually comprises the residual
value of the car at the end of the lease plus a purchase-option fee
ranging from $300 to $500. When you signed on the dotted line, your
monthly payments were calculated as the difference between the vehicle’s
sticker price and its estimated value at the end of the lease, plus a
monthly financing fee. This estimated price of the car value at the end
of the lease is what is termed in leasing jargon “residual value”. It is
the expected depreciation – or loss in value – of the vehicle over the
scheduled-lease period. For example, a car with a sticker price of
$40,000 and a 50% residual percentage will have an estimated $20,000
value at lease end.
Now that you know the cost of buying out your lease, you need to determine
the actual value, also termed “market value”, of your vehicle. So, how
much does your car retail for in the market? To pin down a good, solid
estimate you need to do some pricing research. Check the price of the
vehicle, with similar mileage and condition, with different dealers. Use
online pricing websites, such as Cars.com, Edmunds.com and Kelly Blue Book
for detailed pricing information. Gleaning pricing information from various
sources should give you a fair estimate of your vehicle’s retail value.
All you have to do now is compare the two amounts. If the residual value is
lower than the actual retail value, than you’re into a winner.
Unfortunately, there is a good chance a car coming off a lease is a little
on the high side.
Don’t despair though. Leasing companies know as much that residual values
on their vehicles are greater than their market value and as such are
always on the look out for offers. You can knock down on the price of your
leased vehicle with some smooth negotiating tactics. Put forward a price
that is below your actual target and negotiate hard until you wind up near