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.
At LeaseTrader, the seller pays $59 to list the car. Buyers can get started for a 60-day membership fee of $29.95. The price includes a credit verification, which lets sellers know you're a serious candidate to take over their lease. If you become a "premium" buyer for $79, you get one free vehicle-inspection report.