Here Are The Car Lease Buyout Options You Should Consider

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What You Should Know about Lease Buyout OptionsHispanolistic - Getty Images

If you're currently leasing a vehicle and would like to own it, a lease buyout might be a good option. If your lease is ending and you're not ready to let go of your vehicle, or you don't want to wait until the contract ends and would like to buy out your lease early, there are a range of opportunities available to you. Weighing the options of a lease buyout helps you to understand the concept and enables you to make the right decision for your situation.

Considering A Lease Buyout? Explore Auto Financing Below

How Does a Car Lease Buyout Work?

A car lease buyout involves purchasing the vehicle and claiming ownership of it. There are several lease buyout options to consider. To find the one that best suits your needs, doing your own research and negotiating a good deal with the dealership or leasing company is key.


Option One: Lease-End Buyout

You can choose the lease-end buyout option when you reach the end of your vehicle's lease contract. This is the most common option and is typically less expensive than an early buyout. You normally pay the car's residual value at the end of the lease plus costs, such as sales taxes and a purchase option fee.

If your car lease is ending, and you're not ready for another vehicle or looking to upgrade, consider this option. You might also opt for a lease-end buyout if you incur excess mileage fees or wear-and-tear charges on the vehicle.

Other factors that indicate a lease-end buyout is a good idea include low interest rates for financing or the vehicle requiring minimal repairs. You may decide that the car is a worthy long-term investment.

Option Two: Early Lease Buyout

The early lease buyout option is not as straightforward as the lease-end buyout. This less common option involves buying the vehicle in the middle of the lease and is usually more costly. You need money for the remaining lease payments, the residual value, and any other taxes and fees you incur in the buyout process.

You might consider an early lease buyout to avoid additional costs later. For example, you are in danger of breaking your lease agreement because you exceeded the mileage limit or incurred excess wear and tear. Lessors may apply an excess mileage charge or wear-and-tear penalty once the lease ends.

Opting for an early lease buyout can prevent the problems that result from violating the leasing agreement. It can also be a convenient option if you decide the vehicle is a viable long-term investment.

Tips for Buying Out a Lease

When you're ready to start the process of an auto lease buyout, consider these tips to save money and optimize your experience:

1. Consider the Timing

Determining when to proceed with buying out your car lease is important. Whether you select a lease-end or early lease buyout, make it clear that you intend to purchase the vehicle. Clarifying with the dealership or leasing company that you want to own the vehicle can avoid any misunderstanding that you are terminating the lease and prevent a disposition fee and possibly an early termination charge.

It's also advisable to double-check if your lease agreement includes any specific early lease buyout fees. For example, you might incur extra finance charges. Reviewing the leasing agreement provides an accurate indication of how much the buyout will cost you.

2. Assess the Car's Value

Make sure you consider the retail and wholesale value of the vehicle. The retail value is how much you would expect to pay the dealer for the car. The wholesale value is what the dealer would pay to buy the car from a manufacturer.

Doing your own research is a good way to establish the current market value of your car. Use Kelley Blue Book as a premium information source for discovering the car's market value. You can compare this amount to the residual value that appears in your lease contract to determine if the lease buyout is a good deal.

3. Shop Around for Financing Options

If you need assistance to cover the payoff amount for your lease buyout, research the financing options available to get the best rate. Lenders that provide auto loans might also offer a lease buyout loan with desirable terms and affordable monthly payments. Additionally, dealers often match a competitor's rates. Consider using financing offers from brick-and-mortar or online banks, finance companies, and credit unions to drive down the purchase option price or get a better deal from the dealership.

4. Evaluate Your Vehicle's Insurance

Saving money during this process can extend beyond the vehicle's lease buyout price. Compare the cost of owning and insuring a used car and leasing the vehicle. Reassess your insurance policy, or contact your insurance company and ask for a reduction in your premium. Depending on your needs, you could also lower the deductible or extensive coverage if you decide to purchase the car.

5. Let the Leasing Company Make the First Move

It is common for the lessor to reach out near the end of the lease period, usually within 90 days. If you opt for the lease-end buyout option, you might be more likely to save money if you wait for them to contact you. Waiting rather than informing the leasing company of your buyout intention can improve your chances of negotiating a favorable deal on the lease buyout amount.

6. Negotiate the Payoff Amount

Although some leasing companies have a no-negotiation clause in the lease terms, there's still a chance it could work. You can attempt to negotiate the payoff amount for a car lease buyout, but it may not be possible to lower the price. Instead, consider asking for financing discounts or finding out if purchase incentives are available. It's also worth noting that the dealer may waive the purchase option fee if you negotiate a lease buyout.

Own Your Leased Vehicle in Five Easy Steps

If you are ready to own your lease vehicle, follow this step-by-step guide to buying out your lease:

  1. Tell your leasing company that you intend to purchase the vehicle before the end of your lease. Be clear that you want to own the car and not terminate the lease.

  2. Negotiate what you can, including the purchase option price and any other costs the lease buyout involves. Do your own research to determine the car's residual value, but keep in mind that it's hard to lower this amount.

  3. If you're not paying in cash, make arrangements with a financial institution to ensure the lease buyout is more affordable with lower monthly payments on a lease buyout loan. Obtain several financing offers, and use them to your advantage to get the dealer to match a competitor's rate.

  4. Update your car insurance to take advantage of lower premiums or avoid unnecessary coverage. Now might be a good time to shop around for policies from other insurance providers to get the best deal.

  5. Finalize the buyout when you complete your negotiations, secure any necessary financing, and reach a payoff deal that you are happy with.

Example of a Car Lease Buyout

A simple way to determine your leased car's buyout price is to review your lease agreement that states the vehicle's residual value. The residual value is the car's expected worth at the end of a lease term. To calculate the estimated buyout price, add the remaining lease payments to the residual value of the vehicle.

For example, if the used car's residual value is $10,000 and you have four remaining lease payments of $500, the buyout price would equal $12,000. You should also factor in any local and state taxes and potential purchase option fees from the lease agreement to get a more accurate estimate.

What Is the Difference between a Vehicle Trade-in and a Lease Buyout?

Typically, trading in a leased vehicle upgrades what you're driving and starts a new lease. A lease buyout lets you purchase the vehicle so you can own it. Deciding between trading in your leased car or buying it depends on your needs.

For example, if your family is growing and you decide you need a sport utility vehicle (SUV) that offers more cargo space, or you want to downsize your truck to a compact car, trading in your lease for a different vehicle would be the best option.

If you choose to trade in your vehicle, make sure you confirm with the dealer what will happen with the remaining balance of your lease. Some dealers pay off the amount for you and give you a trade-in credit toward the lease of a new vehicle. Unfortunately, others add the amount you owe to the new lease, meaning it isn't the most economical choice. It's also important to note that lease termination costs may apply.

When to Avoid a Lease Buyout

It can be challenging to figure out your best option for a lease buyout, which is why it's imperative to weigh the pros and cons. Consider the car's current condition and mileage. Keeping the vehicle may not be a good deal if it has high mileage or the expected repair costs exceed the vehicle's residual value.

It's also important to consider the affordability of the lease buyout. If you can't secure financing, buying the vehicle wouldn't be a wise financial decision. And if the car is worth less than the buyout price, or you can replace it at a better price, there might be better options than a lease buyout. Lastly, if you feel the overall performance of your leased car is unsatisfactory, it isn't worth purchasing.

When to Go Ahead with a Lease Buyout

Owning the car outright makes sense if you can afford the buyout price or monthly payments. If the car's market value is higher than the buyout amount, it's worth purchasing.

Ask yourself if the car is in good mechanical condition, has low mileage, and you're happy with it. If you answer yes to these questions, then going ahead with the buyout process before the end of your lease can be a wise move.

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