Negative Equity Gets More Negative

It's everywhere. Reports of a rising recession, layoffs, abandoned factories, bankruptcy threats and more. And now, some hungry car dealers are starting to show it in the paperwork we are seeing.

There's more (and higher) negative equity numbers showing up on sales contracts, where car salespeople are convincing consumers that their trade in vehicle isn't worth what's owed on it and might even be worth a whole lot less. The difference is what car dealer's euphemistically call "negative equity." A lot of it is just plain lies.

We are seeing bigger numbers, more often, than ever before. A lot of times the consumer hasn't even realized what the dealer did to them. Sometimes they do but didn't know how much it really was. And sometimes they didn't have a clue what was happening to them until it was too late. Read before you sign and read very, very carefully.

With a downturn in the economy, don't be tempted to trade off that bad car and roll over negative equity into your next car loan, even if you know it's happening. If that next car turns out to be a lemon, you may not be able to afford to get rid of it or, worse yet, even if you have a right to make the manufacturer buy it back, they may ask you to pay your way out of the loan. That sucks.

Remember, car dealers don't make any money unless you buy. That's Rule #1. And the factories don't make any money if the dealers aren't selling. So, the factories often know all about the negative equity problem too. They probably know about it better than anyone. After all, they started it with surplus capacity that could only be dumped by offering big rebates and dealer incentives to "move the iron."

Don't be fooled by slick suits and smooth talk. Before you go on a car lot with your trade in, check blue book value so you know what your trade is really worth. And then argue like the dickins over it too. Try to get at least 10% above book value.

And don't buy anything unless the sales contract is crystal clear to you on the numbers. Make sure you understand every number and that every number is right and that the numbers all add up correctly too. And every number --- every number --- on the sales contract is negotiable. That includes even the so-called "documentary fee" (which is really just pure profit, after all, the numbers are already in the computer so the "fee" is just for pushing the button that says print it all out) and even the sales tax (there's no law that says you have to pay it --- if the dealer wants you to buy that expensive car, tell them that they will have to cover the sales tax. After all, what do you have to lose?).

And don't be a "payment buyer" who never cares about the price because all you want is something that fits your monthly budget, either. A payment buyer is the easiest kind to rip off. If all you are looking at is the monthly payment, you'd be surprised to see how much more profit there is by adding another 6 months of payments to the loan! Watch out.

We started sueing car dealers for "auto sales fraud" practices 29 and a half years ago and the only thing that has changed is their creativity at scheming up new ways to get into your wallet.

Don't let a car dealer rip you off. And if they already did, call us Toll Free at 1.888.331.6422 or email us your story. We can help you to get even. After all, it's your money and you worked hard for it.

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Known nationwide as a leading Lemon Law attorney, Ronald L. Burdge has represented literally thousands of consumers in "lemon" lawsuits and actively co-counsels and coaches other Consumer Law attorneys. From 2005 through 2018, attorney Ronald L. Burdge has been named as the only Lemon Law Ohio Super Lawyer by Law and Politics magazine and Thomson Reuters Corp., Professional Division. Burdge restricts his practice to Lemon Law and Consumer Law cases. The Ohio Super Lawyer results are published annually in the January issue of Cincinnati Magazine. Ronald L. Burdge was named Consumer Law Trial Lawyer of the Year 2004 by the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the nation's largest organization of consumer law private and government attorneys. "Your impact on the auto industry has been magnified many times over because of the trail you blazed for others," stated NACA's Executive Director, Will Ogburn. Burdge has represented thousands of consumers in Ohio, Kentucky and elsewhere since 1978 and is a frequent lecturer to national, state and local Bar Associations and Judicial organizations. Burdge is admitted to Ohio's state and federal courts, Kentucky's state courts, and Indiana's federal courts. Other court admissions are on a "pro hac" temporary, case by cases basis.