You leased a car, and now you hate it. Or you can't afford it. Or you just found the car of your dreams, but your current car lease runs for two more years. That's the great disadvantage of leasing a car: You're stuck. At least, you were stuck, until two online companies came along to provide a marketplace to help people get out of their car leases. LeaseTrader.com and SwapaLease.com provide that auto-lease marketplace for a fee, helping people get out of existing leases. On the other side of the transaction, people looking for a shorter-term lease, with no down payment, can find good deals by picking up the balance of an existing lease. It's a fast-growing business. SwapaLease.com says it completed 6,000 lease-transfer transactions in 2005, and it expects that to grow to 10,000 in 2006. Scot Hall, director of lease operations, says his site has about 5,000 cars listed at any given moment. LeaseTrader.com says it had more than 20,000 lease-transfer transactions in 2005, and it's expecting volume to triple this year. It usually has about 20,000 cars listed on its site, according to Chief Executive Sergio Stiberman.
How It Works
The two companies have similar models, though they provide slightly different services and charge different fees. The sites work something like a dating service. Those looking for a lease can search for free on either site. You can search in multiple ways, such as by model, dollar amount of the lease or geographic location. Once you've found a car and want to contact the seller of the lease, you'll have to pay a "buyer's fee" to get the contact information for the seller. SwapaLease creates several different packages for sellers. At its most basic level, you can list a car for $49.95 and then pay a one-time fee of $95 if a lease-transfer deal is consummated. Or you can simply pay a one-time fee of $99 for a club membership. There also is a "gold" listing, with more exposure through banner ads, for $149. SwapaLease buyers pay either $34.95 for a 45-day membership or $49.95 for a lifetime membership. (Remember, these are short-term leases, so you may be back in a couple of years.)