|During the holiday season, auto lenders tend to be a little more generous than usual. Since 43% of car buyers choose to finance their vehicles, these deals are a real treat for many would-be buyers.
In recent weeks, PNC Bank has been pushing its Check Ready program, which expedites the loan approval process and allows buyers to go car shopping as if they were buying with cash. If approved, the applicant will receive a blank check overnight or be able to pick one up at a local PNC branch. The applicant will receive an answer within 15 minutes of submitting their application.
This is especially helpful for those who want to keep their finances private. The Check Ready program does not require an applicant to disclose the type of vehicle they want to buy.
Although many car owners have outstanding auto loans that they have yet to pay off, these deals have been too enticing for many, luring them to trade in their vehicles that were worth less than the outstanding loans.
About one third of trade-ins, in fact, were worth less than the loan amount in 2016. The Santa Monica auto industry information service began keeping track of underwater loans in 2002. This is the highest percentage on record.
“It’s a two-fold effect,” said Ivan Drury, a senior analyst at Edmunds.com. “People are financing cars over longer cycles. Over the last decade, people have been financing cars for longer periods of time — from about five years to seven years now. People still want a new car within the same five-year time frame and they end up with negative equity. But they figure they will roll the negative equity into a new car loan and pay it off.”
Check Ready is not a new program, however, and PNC claims to have a thorough outline of the program on its website. During the holiday season, the lender chooses to highlight the program in order to compete with other lenders.
Auto lending is an extremely competitive market among banks and other approved lenders. The reason that these lenders are willing to give deals during the holiday season is not to spread holiday cheer, though. It’s because dealerships are trying to get rid of their remaining previous year models before the new ones start rolling into inventory.