How Do I Sell My Leased Car to a Third Party?

If you’re currently leasing a car and want to get out of it early, you have some options. You can turn the car back into the dealership and pay the early termination fees to get it off your hands or you can sell it to a third party person or dealership. But if you wanted to go that route, how would you go about it?

Selling your leased car to a private party

If you want to get out of your lease early, then the first thing you should do is look up the payoff amount with the leasing company it’s under. The leasing company will be able to tell you how much is currently owed on the car if you wanted to buy it outright. After finding out that amount, you’ll want to make sure that the amount that you owe is less than the car’s overall value.

For example, if you’re leasing a 2019 Subaru Forester that has a payoff amount of $24,000, then you’ll want to make sure that the car’s trade-in and private party value is worth more than that to cover the overall cost of the car. So, the next step would be to check the car’s value on Kelley Blue Book or Edmunds.

A 2019 Nissan Motor Co. Rogue sport utility vehicle (SUV) sits on the lot at a car dealership in Joliet, Illinois
The 2019 Nissan Rogue | Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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According to CarGurus, an easy way to sell your leased car to a private party would be to buy the car outright from the leasing company and then sell the car to a private party when you get the title. That way, you can reap the benefits of selling the car at the private party value and make a little more of a profit than you would if you traded it in.

If you can’t fork over the cash to buy the car outright, then another way to go that same route would be to have the buyer pay the leasing company for the car. The leasing company will then send you the title, which you can then sign over to the new buyer, says Edmunds. Either way, you go about it, it’s an easy way to get out of your lease.

A red 2021 Chevy Corvette sports car parked inside a car dealership in Colma, California, on Monday, February 8, 2021
A General Motors Co. Chevrolet Corvette Stingray vehicle for sale at a car dealership in Colma, California, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. General Motors Co. is scheduled to release earnings figures on February 10. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

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Selling your leased car to a third-party dealer

On the other hand, selling your leased car to a dealership is much more convenient. You can bring your car to a traditional car dealership, including the one you leased the car from, or you can have it appraised at a used car dealer like Carmax or Carvana.

After the dealer appraises the car, they will make you an offer. If the offer is more than your car’s payoff amount, then the dealer will cut you a check for the positive equity. But if the offer is less than the payoff amount, then you’ll have to pay the remainder. Just like with the private party option, selling your leased car to a dealer is an easy, and quicker, way to get out of your leased car early.

A white Toyota Tundra pickup truck is seen at a car dealership in San Jose, California.
A Toyota Tundra pickup truck is seen at a car dealership in San Jose, California. | Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto

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Can I negotiate the offer the dealer gives me?

Typically, no. But if you get your car appraised at a traditional dealership and are interested in one of their cars, then they might work with you a little on your car’s appraisal in order to sell one of theirs.