2. How do I buy my car at the end of the lease?
You've come to the end of your lease, and it hits you: After you give the car back you won't have anything to drive. And you like the car. It never let you down and it fits your lifestyle.
Then the brilliant idea occurs to you. You'll buy the car. But when you check the contract your "residual value" is more than you want to pay. What do you do?
"Most people don't realize that in most cases the buyout is negotiable," Shebesta said. In fact, "It is in the best interest of the leasing company to sell the car to you. The way the leasing business is now, if they take the car to auction they're really going to get killed. They have to pay auction fees, plus take a low price for the car. But maybe you can offer a lower buyout or even finance it through them."
So, how do you go about this?
"The customer needs to make sure they don't buy it for the 'average retail' price," Shebesta warned. Look in the various pricing guides, such as Edmunds.com True Market Value® (TMV®) and offer the bank a figure that is closer to wholesale.
If you are leasing from the manufacturer, such as Ford Motor Co., call a Ford dealership, preferably the one where you bought the car. A lot of dealerships have a salesperson designated for accepting lease returns. Tell them you want to buy the car. Ultimately, it will be the Ford Motor Co.'s decision whether to sell you the car at that price or not.
"You will have more success (buying the car) through an independent leasing company," Shebesta said. Get the phone number from the car's payment book. Call the bank and say, "'My lease is due soon. What is the buyout number?'" Tell the bank you are interested in buying the car and possibly financing it through them. Get the phone number of the person in charge of making this decision. When you reach her, make your offer. You may be pleasantly surprised at her response.