Tough economy affects car leases

March 6, 2008 7:39:24 PM PST
A new way for you to get out of expensive car leases, if you're no longer to make payments during this tough economy.

As the foreclosure rate continues to climb, economists say auto repossessions will hit their highest level in at least a decade.

It seems many people who got into expensive car leases are no longer able to make the payments.

Drivers are now going on line to make a deal that gets them out of their leases, and out of trouble.

Carlos Jimenez owns his own real estate company. When times were good he took out a lease on this $93,000 dollar Mercedes. Now he wants out from under a payment that rivals some mortgages.

"It was just time for me to downsize my business in different areas and one of the areas was my expenses and it was my car," said Carlos Jimenez from Better Home Loans and Realty.

Carlos turned to Leasetrader.com, the online company matches people who want out of a car lease with no penalties with buyers who are interested in a short term lease and no down payment.

In this economy, it's proving to be a growing business.

"We definitely see a trend, actually a 24-percent increase in people that are looking to downsize on their current vehicle," said Leasetrader.com CEO Sergio Stiberman.

Leasetrader.com says it had 35,000 transactions last year and predicts 45,000 this year.

The other major player in this space is swapalease.com. Both sites charge sellers to advertise their car and for a successful transfer of their lease to a qualified buyer.

The Better Business Bureau says both are members in good standing. The BBB does caution sellers to contact their leasing company and know the rules regarding a lease transfer.

"Some companies don't allow you to transfer leases and some will only let you do it if you remain on the original lease, your name remains on the original lease," said Zach Meeden from the Better Business Bureau.

The leasing arm of most major auto companies "do" allow for lease transfers that completely ends the seller's obligation to the contract. Notable exceptions are Honda, Nissan and Audi.

For Carlos Jimenez, Leasetrader.com has lifted a $1,600 dollar a month burden off his shoulders.

"I got responses immediately, so I'm very satisfied and the car is actually in the process of being sold as we speak," said Jimenez.

Carlos says his love for expensive cars will rebound with the housing market.


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