A car leased three years ago is worth way more now at the end of its lease than was predicted.
The humble Volkswagen Tiguan leads the list with a 61.3% increase.
But the Camaro is worth $12,346 more in cash.
Yes, these are weird times we’re living in. You can’t find a rental car because rental companies sold them all off during last year’s pandemic. You can’t get a new or even a used car because all the chips required to make them go are being put into Sony PS5s. And good luck finding a new car for sticker price even on the least-desirable brand’s lot. But one thing that could be put in the plus category right now is leased cars. Once your three-year lease is up, keep the car and sell it, because that may be one of the most surefire ways to make money during this crazy year-and-a-half we’re having.
The people at iSeeCars sift through almost 10 million automotive transactions to see what is happening in the market. A recent analysis turned up this list of the best leased cars to buy back and sell for the highest profit. Yes, while in most “normal” years a car is worth less money than it was new at the end of a three-year lease deal, in these strange times cars are now worth more, not less, after three years.
“Heightened demand for used cars in the wake of the microchip shortage and the COVID-19 pandemic has led to record high used car prices,” the firm notes. “While high prices and diminished inventory has created a difficult market for car buyers, consumers who are at the end of their car leases can likely buy their cars and sell them at a substantial profit.”
The average three-year-old used car is now worth 31.5 percent, or a meaty $7019, more than its residual value estimated at the beginning of its lease term, iSeeCars says. That’s because three years ago there was no pandemic, no rental car shortage, and no chip shortage.
If you were lucky enough to lease a Volkswagen Tiguan in 2018 and your lease is up, you now rule the residue, since the Tiguan experienced a 61.3-percent increase during that time period, or $8677. Just buy it at the end of your lease and sell it for a profit.
“Dealers calculate a vehicle’s residual value based on its projected depreciation, and this value is locked in at the beginning of a car’s lease,” said iSeeCars Executive Analyst Karl Brauer. “With used car prices at record highs, the market value of leased cars is substantially higher than their residual value, which means that lessees can buy the car at the end of their lease term and sell it themselves for a significant profit.”
iSeeCars determined the top 15 three-year-old vehicles that have the largest difference in value over their predicted price. These cars’ differences are 1.5 to 1.9 times more than the average vehicle.
“While all vehicles are worth more than predicted three years ago, these are the cars where the difference between their current value and predicted value is the most significant,” said Brauer.
Below are the top 15 cars, but check your lease car to compare what your leasing agent said it would be worth in three years and what it actually is worth. You’re probably well ahead of the game!