Feedback on Lease Trading Website

Just wanted to get some feedback from the leasehackr community. I thought this would be the most suitable forum to post in.

My partner and I started this project after I had a really bad experience trying to get out of an existing car lease. I either had to cough up the remaining lease amount up front, which was thousands of dollars I couldn’t afford, or try to trade it. The two main competitors in the trading space required an upfront payment just to list my vehicle, with no guarantees of a take-over. We’re hoping to help people in similar situations with a leased car, or have people take over leases instead of getting a new one to avoid a similar situation.

Was wondering if I could get some feedback from the community on the site itself and functionality. We’re trying to become the go-to space in lease-transferring.

Here is the website.

So user doesn’t pay until the lease is transferred?

User doesn’t pay anything for posting/messaging. I’m thinking of incorporating some premium features in the future such as credit check/id verification. Doesn’t really make sense to have the user pay 30-40 dollars to list something that may not even sell.

The problem with credit check is that the lessor will handle that with the transfer so what value does it really add?

Maybe not check credit but just verify identity, it would help eliminate a lot of the headache that goes into wasting hours with people that cant even buy.

While having no upfront fees is great, the main thing that will get your project successful is tons of exposure, a seamless user experience & great reviews. I have used Leasetrader in the past and hated it! Their interface sucks, messages aren’t real time & I didn’t get as many inquires compared to Swapalease. You also have to factor in that some people will have great leases and some will have terrible leases. For example: A 2018 BMW 330xi, with similar miles and in similar condition. One might be going for $300/month and the other might be going for $600/month.

Understood. What do you think are some of the best ways to gain exposure in this case? I only started this project because I didn’t like LeaseTrader either.

Was it just the interface of Leasetrader that made it difficult?

Understood. How much identification would you be willing to submit to a website like this if you were buying?

Agreed. One of the problems I’ve had before were people that weren’t serious attempting to do a lease trade. I think some kind of pre-check for the buyer would be very helpful

The interface and overall interactions with Leasetrader were not good. The dashboard was slow, messages did not load up properly and icons did nothing when clicked on. The website lacked speed & precision.

How far do you want to take this project? It will obviously take some serious money and marketing gurus to get you closely competitive to Leasetrader & Swapalease. Your website would need to at least come up with search hits on google to get some traffic in.

My personal feature wishlist/thoughts

  • Taxes/licensing- this might not be as big of an issue in say California or Texas, but in the mid-atlantic and northeast, the states are quite small, so it isn’t far fetched to buy your car out of state. Some sort of guide for every state would be tremendously helpful when transferring from other states (e.g., in the DC metro, you have DC/MD/VA, to an extent, DE, WV, and PA as well).
  • Some things I’m not seeing is the MSRP, MF, Residual, package list, current payoff, etc. Might not be as pertinent with some makes/models, but with European cars particularly, this would be helpful.
  • type filters (searching multiple makes/models/colors/etc)
  • Would be a cool to enable brokers/dealer internet departments to list their cars too
  • Arranging shipping/3rd party inspections? (Maybe getting a cut out of those services?)

From a business side, without having people pay upfront, I think it could become trickier to generate revenue. Might want to think about more of a “freemium” model. Like you “could” do it for free, but you can do things like be a 3rd party that holds the deposit and take say 50% of a month’s payment, manage contracts (use docusign to make a contract with buyer/seller, verified with their identity, say their drivers license number), commission on arranging shipping/3rd party inspections. Just dubious that people will complete their deal, and then come back to pay… Just no incentive to come back to pay for the service

My thoughts as well. I’m looking to make this a side project of mine. I’m a software engineer by trade with a love of cars but not exactly a marketing guru.

I’ve been thinking of a freemium model like you said where the premium features would include ID verification of the buyers that can message you on the listing. One of the issues I had with the other sites were that non-serious buyers were contacting me all the time. Like you said, it doesn’t make much sense for me to hold some money in escrow when they can just do it offline and avoid me.

+1 on the taxes/licensing guide information.

I didn’t include MSRP/MF/Residual since not many people know what those things are. I wanted to keep the UI simple and only include gross/net monthly payment and months remaining.

I did have a vision on the broker/dealers but would love to build a following here first. Currently don’t have any clout if I have no users :frowning:

I’m looking to work on marketing for this project for at least 3-4 months out. I’ve been experimenting with different Google/Facebook ad placements.

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Sounds good. Keep the forum updated. I am looking forwards to the progress of your platform.

MSRP/MF/Residual: Fair enough - Might be worth thinking about having some of the info on the details page or just available somewhere - I’d imagine your typical user wouldn’t be someone content with leasing a silver Toyota Corolla LE every 3 years (for the last 20 years) - Original MSRP gives some sort of hint of how loaded or stripped down a car is. MF and residual might be overkill

For escrow - The benefit in my mind would be a 3rd party holding the money until the deal goes through - sort of how it works with earnest money deposit when buying a house… If the buyer strings the seller along for 2-3 weeks and gets cleared by the bank, but then decides very last second to back out, maybe the seller is entitled to some of that deposit? Idk, I could be overcomplicating things here as I’m known to do sometimes :slight_smile: Plus with volume, holding onto that money even for a week or two might be able to get a good chunk of interest.

Good luck with the project! Definitely an opportunity here.

Thanks! Will definitely look into ideas. Any ideas on how I should be generating more traffic to the website? Only thing I can think of is throwing more money at the problem.

I’m a software developer too. After I had a less than ideal experience with LeaseTrader, I started to make my own lease swap site too - how hard could it be?! I ultimately backed down and am working on something adjacent that I think will be more useful for brokers and dealers, but I learned a few things in the process -

  1. You will have a lot of legal exposure

Anything involving cars usually involves a lot of money, and if you have any success at all, you’ll quickly become a platform for scammers - and there are a bunch of scams around lease takeovers. The first time someone walks off with an incentive check, steals a car on a test drive, bounces a check, etc will probably be uncomfortable for you.

Do a lot of research on the various scams and do as much as you can to protect your users. Work with a lawyer to make sure you and your business are protected as much as possible. I suspect at least part of the reason the existing sites have credit checks as part of the process is to help protect themselves, although they do have benefits for users as well (fewer spammers, filtering out people who wouldn’t quality and would waste your time, etc)

  1. Network effects are hard to overcome

SAL/LeaseTrader are pretty basic sites and I figured I could buckle down and build something comparable in a few months of evenings/weekends, plus a few thousand bucks for a designer to make it look nice.

That isn’t the hard part, though - dealing with the chicken-and-egg problem of how do you get buyers without having cars listed and how do you get people to list cars without knowing there are people looking at them? You can have a site that is 10x better than the existing ones and free or much cheaper, but people will still cough up $300 or $500 or whatever because that’s where all of the buyers are.

Going to require a lot of money and/or creativity to solve this problem. Do you know anyone good at this kind of stuff that you could partner with? What is your current partner good at?

  1. It ends up being a fairly high-touch business

If you give any info to SAL/LeaseTrader, they will call you incessantly and you’ll have to get a new identity to stop the calls. A big part of this is that those sites are very sales-heavy and this is part of how they solve the network effect issue, but part of it also is that doing a lease transfer is a little scary to your average person and having someone to talk to and ask questions makes it a little less so. They also have a lot of info about the specifics of transferring YOUR lease - if you are listing an Audi did you know that you’ll still be on the hook for it, or if you are leasing a BMW you can’t do a transfer in the last 6 months, or if your lease is through Ally you can’t do out of state transfers, etc…

You definitely want to beef up the amount of information about the process, specifics of the brand, etc on your site.

Hope that helps a bit. Good luck with it, could definitely use some more competition in this area!


Send an email to one of the influencer(for example: Doug DeMuro or AutoVlog on youtube) and see if they will talk about your website for a small fees in one of their video. Every video they post get 400-600k view and if even 1% visits your website then it will be great for business. I am also a software engineer and had thought about the idea similar to yours but because of lack of time never executed. All the best to you and hopefully you can get in touch with one of the influencer because social media marketing is huge these days!

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I’d personally probably think to go with a strong SEO strategy on Google/other search engines (like how most of us probably found LeaseHackr). Targeted ads on LeaseHackr, and other car forums, Edmunds, brand/model specific forums might be an avenue to explore as well.

I’d be cautious about influencers this early on… I’d wait until you have your business model/operations a bit more nailed down and you have a bit bigger audience on your own… doesn’t make you or the influencer look good. Might also be worth considering a smaller niche to start off with (whether that is geographically or specific brand/market) and really hone in to be the best in that niche and then expand further once you have a proven operating model. Depending on far you want to take it, it would be easier to get investors onboard as well if you can prove your business model

The legal side is something to consider as well… and so is the data governance/privacy side.

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