Facts & Myths About Leasing
Collectors of exotic and vintage cars typically hold well-reasoned opinions on most topics, including the best way to finance their automotive acquisitions.
Few car collectors, however, actually take the time to compare the economic and tax advantages of leasing, versus traditional luxury car financing or outright purchase. Force of habit, pride of ownership, and misinformation can all cloud what should be a fact-based financial decision.
Leasing is often the least understood and most maligned financing alternative. Read on to learn how Mitch Katz, CEO with Premier Financial Services, long recognized within the industry as an authority on exotic and vintage autos, cleared up some of the myths and misunderstandings in a recent interview.
Q. Why is leasing so misunderstood?
A. Unfortunately, the leasing industry has done a poor job of market education. People don’t understand that the leases we arrange today are very different from when auto leasing was first introduced. They only remember horror stories about people being locked into a lease. Although leasing options and flexibility have changed significantly, market perceptions of leasing have not.
Q. What are the shortcomings of ‘traditional’ leasing?
A. The traditional leasing structure is based on a rental concept: the lessee pays an upfront fee and monthly fees for a fixed period; mileage without penalty is limited; and the vehicle is eventually returned. For obvious reasons, this arrangement is unsuitable for most exotic and vintage car collectors, and also does not meet the needs of people who wish to change cars frequently.
Q. How has leasing changed?
A. Leasing is now far more customized and user-friendly. At Premier, for example, we provide The PFS Simple Lease designed specifically for car collectors, that enables them to drive more car for their money, and to end their lease at any time without the penalties normally associated with early termination.
Q. Explain how The PFS Simple Lease works.
A. We simply agree on a lease-end residual value for the car, and while the lease is in place the owner makes payments based on the difference between the amount financed and that residual. When the lease expires, the owner has four options:
- Pay the residual and own the car.
- Sell the car, pay the residual, and keep any difference.
- Trade in the car, let the dealer pay the residual, and keep any difference.
- Refinance the residual through a new lease without a large cash outlay, and continue to own the car.
Q. What happens when they want to end a lease early or switch cars?
A. That’s the beauty of The PFS Simple Lease. Our Early Termination Program allows an owner who wants to end their lease early to pay the balance owed, which is calculated based on a simple interest formula. Owners can also switch cars within their lease without penalty, simply by paying any difference in value between the two cars. The lease’s residual value and payments remain unchanged.
Q. Are there tax benefits associated with leasing?
A. Sales tax on a purchased or financed vehicle is due immediately. With a lease, in most states, tax is based on the monthly payment schedule. This provides the car owner with the use of that money over the term of the lease. More significantly, if the car is leased under a business name, not necessarily a corporate entity, pre-tax dollars may be used to pay for the lease.
Q. Can collector cars be considered a business expense?
A. Many of our leasing clients use their cars for legitimate business purposes. A Ferrari 275GTB/4 certainly impresses prospects and customers. Because automobiles play an important role in our culture, a head-turning car can serve as the cornerstone of a bona fide business promotion or advertising campaign.
Q. Do the benefits of leasing only apply to collector cars?
A. Most of the leases we arrange are for exotic, vintage, collector and luxury cars, only because this is the marketplace we’ve been involved in for more than 25 years. But we can provide financing for any vehicle with a value of more than $50,000.
Q. Are there any lease restrictions regarding where a car is purchased?
A. Our leasing customers purchase cars from anywhere in the country; from a dealer, an individual, or even Ebay. Premier is not in the business of buying, selling or trading cars. Our job is to make it easy for people to own cars through leasing.
Q. What’s the #1 myth regarding leasing?
A. People are told that leasing is a complicated, time and money consuming process. If this were true, Premier would be unable to boast about its high customer retention track record, with well over 50% of our clients using Premier for 2nd & 3rd vehicles, as well as servicing most of the authorized and independent exotic car dealers across the country.
Q. Are auto-enthusiasts making a mistake if they don’t lease?
A. We don’t think leasing makes sense for every situation. But sophisticated car buyers are making a mistake if they don’t consider all of their financing options. And leasing is an extremely viable option.
Q. What’s the best way to learn more about leasing?