We’re buying out our car lease. What’s the best way to go?

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Q. Our 2019 lease on a Honda CR-V is due to expire in a few months. The buyout price is approximately $17,500. Since we can afford it, we’d like to buy out the lease and take possession of the vehicle. Should we purchase the auto through the dealership or go directly to the lease office at Honda Financial? Which is the smarter way to go?
— Driver

A. It’s a terrific question.

This is a great time to buy out your auto lease.

The current supply issues in the economy have driven up the value of used and new cars to a point where you are most likely paying less for the car you leased three years ago, said Darren Zagarola, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with EKS Associates in Princeton.

“ When you lease a car, you agree to a residual value that is specified in the lease agreement for the price at which you can purchase the car at the end of the lease,” he said. “The residual is the predicted value of the car at the end of the lease and this value cannot be changed once that agreement is signed.”

To start the process of buying out your lease, contact the finance company to confirm the residual value per your copy of the agreement and let them know you would like to purchase the car, Zagarola said.

“If you were to go through the dealership, they might charge you for their time and efforts, but the financing company will not. Since the maximum price you would pay for the car is stipulated in the lease agreement, the only negotiations would be if you were looking for a better purchase price than the residual value,” he said. “ Given the current environment, this is most likely not an option.”

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This story was originally published on Feb. 7, 2022.

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