Sergio Stiberman, CEO and founder of LeaseTrader.com, says it can be difficult for drivers to get information on leasing terms, in some areas, so that they can find the best deal. In some states, "there are a few franchises that control the whole market, so consumers end up paying more for lack of strong competition," he says. "When you do call dealers in your area, none of them like to give you upfront information. They all ask you to come in."
Dealers pay a monthly fee to get their leases included on the site, so users don't get to see the entire marketplace of leases. The site has just 10 dealers participating so far, Stiberman says, adding that it's "aggressively pursuing more."
Still, the site gives users the opportunity to score better deals, and -- at minimum -- get more insight into pricing to help negotiate with their local dealers.
For example, consider a consumer who searches the site for a 36-month lease on a BMW 535i with $1,000 down and 10,000 miles. At Momentum BMW in Houston, the cost is $869 per month, compared to $636 per month at Orange County BMW in Harriman, N.Y. (When shoppers click "select," the dealer contacts them directly.)
If the dealer is out of the lessee's area, he or she would have to pay shipping costs -- which typically range from $500 to $700, depending on the location -- to get the car. But in many cases, including in the above example, the lessee could make up those costs in just a few months.
Christine Kick, business development manager at Orange County BMW, says the dealership frequently leases to out-of-state customers. "We just have to apply that particular state's taxes and register the car to their residence," she says. "We can do everything over the phone, although some customers choose to fly in, spend the weekend in New York City, and drive home."
Providing the ability to comparison shop for leased vehicles across states is a unique service, says Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry trends with TrueCar.com, a publisher of new-car transaction data. "You could potentially go around and gather the information on your own, but that's not really practical," he says.