Why Underwater Car Shoppers Facing Record Negative Equity at Trade-In

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If you have ever gone to trade in your car with a dealer, chances are high that you never felt like you were going to get a great deal. It turns out that car shoppers are facing record levels of negative equity on their trade-ins.

Edmunds knows a thing or two (million) about the new and used car markets. They are now reporting that about 32% of all trade-ins toward buying a new car were underwater through the first three quarters of 2016. Edmunds also shows by just how much this is the highest rate on record — it is up from the 30% reported from January to September last year.

Where the big hurt comes is that there was an average of $4,832 of negative equity at the time of trade-in. That is another record.

While Edmunds did not come up with this figure, there is something to consider here. If a car buyer takes out a new 48-month loan on the next car, then being upside down by $4,832 would imply that over $100 per month is being tagged on top of the next car payment just to make up for that shortfall.

Edmunds even went on to show how much car shoppers could potentially save by leasing a car rather than buying a car. Their data show that the average monthly payment on a new car purchase was $505 — some $78 higher than the average $428 monthly lease payment. That data was from the third quarter of 2016 Edmunds further pointed out that new car leasing is at a new record of 33% of new car transactions through October of 2016.

Being upside-down in used cars was also at a record 25% of all trade-ins having negative equity as well. That rate was a record $3,635 per used car at the time of a trade-in.

Edmunds is now suggesting that perhaps car buyers might want to consider leasing. Ivan Drury, a senior analyst of Edmunds, said:

It’s curious to see just how many of today’s car shoppers are undeterred by how much they owe on their trade-ins. With today’s strong economic conditions at their back, these shoppers are willing to absorb a significant financial hit to get into a newer vehicle. In fact, shoppers with this mindset may want to consider jumping on the leasing bandwagon. They can get into a new car with great technology every few years without having to worry about how much they still owe on their trade-in.