I recently bought out the lease on my car. I had a huge range of quotes, options and feedback, collected here for your benefit. Sorry, it's long.
I picked up the car through Swapalease.com last year. I assumed the lease with 13 months remaining - a perfect time for me. In my perfect world, I'd get a new car every year. As my lease came to and end (10/21/2009), I started looking around. And found nothing else I wanted. <digression> I need european cars here. I'm a wagon guy. I love the space and practicality. Throw my bike in the back. Or the dog. Or the dog, and a weekend camping gear. And still get 28+ MPG with awesome handling. I don't get SUVs. Despite looking for months, I couldn't find anything I liked better than my existing car - a 2007 BMW 328xiT manual transmission. It's red, which I hate, but otherwise is perfect.</digression>If you'll excuse me being gauche, I'll talk turkey here and include prices.My lease buyout was $32,000. An insane number, set back when BMW thought residuals were in the 65% range. Oops! A quick search on BMWUSA.com came up with a number of similar cars, with more options, in better colors (i.e. anything but red) AND with the extended warranty for under my residual. Moral of this part: DON'T just buy at the residual. That's for chumps these days.
First step, solicited feedback from car guys I know. Seems that BMWFS (the leasing company) doesn't negotiate with consumers. Just doesn't do it. The dealers, on the other hand, can negotiate. If they want to. I've seen conflicting information, but it appears that when your car lease is up, the dealer has the choice to buy it if they want, or else BMWFS just takes it back and sells it at auction. Some dealers will work with you, others are just lazy I guess.I started calling dealers, trying to find out what kind of pricing I'd be looking at. I'm willing to drive for a deal (I picked the car up in Seattle), so called a few: South Bay BMW in LA, Carrera Motors in Bend, OR (the originating dealer), Peter Pan in San Mateo, CA (closest to my house) and BMW San Francisco. For each, I asked them to provide me with two quotes: one to just buy the car, and one for CPO.Phillippe Kahn from South Bay was first. He came recommended from a car friend. I called him up at 9:15AM, explained my request and provided my VIN. 30 min later, he emailed me a quote. No hassles. Amazing service. No BS. Perfect experience. Quote was for 27.5K, +1500 CPO. Could do the straight buy out here, for CPO I need to drive down there.Next up, BMW SF. "So, how much do you want to pay". Ummmm.... no. Give me a quote. "That's not the way BMW FS works. I'm just here working on your behalf. You give me a number, then I'll go negotiate that for you with BMW FS". Ummmm... no. Give me a quote. "I'm sorry, we can't." Look, another dealer already gave me a quote. If you want my business, let me know what it's going to cost with you. "Oh, OK, we'll provide a quote." That was a week ago. No email. No call back. Nothing. In case it's not coming across strong enough, total complete slime balls. Sleeze. Ick.Carrera was nice, but slow and confused. I called up, spent 20 min explaining what I wanted. The sales guy asked for my VIN twice, wanted to know who I had bought it from (explained I didn't - twice). I had heard that the originating dealer can get a better price, so after not hearing back after a day I called back. Provided my VIN again. Explained that no, I didn't know who the original person bought it from. Finally, a few hours later heard back. Received a quote only over the phone. It was higher than South Bay BMW, by about $1K as I recall. Didn't write anything down since it was higher.Peter Pan. My wife bought a car from these guys a few years ago. I liked our sales guy a lot - Hank - a great persian guy who reminds me of much of my wife's family. He's a typical sales guy, but he's been straightforward. He wants to make money, but does it 100% honestly. I dropped in to test drive a new car (hey, why not!). After heading out for 25 min on my own in a brand new 535xiT (nice, but not 2X nice for me right now), I asked him for a buyout quote. A day later he called me: $28K all-in, with CPO. Do it fast, no work for him, and he gets to keep me as a great customer. I instantly was sold. Moral here: having a relationship with a sales guy is worth it. And Hank is smart. In two years (or one?!) when I'm moving on to my next car, you can damn well be sure that he's my goto guy.
If you're in LA area, or willing to drive down, Phillippe Kahn was also awesome. Go see him.Another fun wrinkle: BMWFS offers financing for used cars, but only if they are CPO. They have a 2.9% APR on 48 months right now. On a 20K loan, that 2.9% more than pays for the CPO cost. It's a net savings to pay more for the CPO and get the lower financing.Hope this helps others thinking about buying out their lease.