Car buying, leasing more high tech than ever

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ATLANTA - Julie Dunn spends a lot of time in her car running errands.  And, while she's parked and waiting for her kids, she's car shopping from it, too.

"I have been using my iPad and my smartphone and I've found two or three apps that I use," she said.

Apps she prefers include and Autotrader.

"I plug in my search, the kind of car I'm looking for and if something comes up in that area, it'll send me an alert," Dunn explained.

Scotty Reiss of says technology is putting more power in the palm of the buyers hand.

"Every car maker, every manufacturer, every seller is making it easier for consumers to find them digitally," said Reiss.

She says shopping apps like Dunn uses are a good place to start, but you'll also want to check out evaluative apps, which can tell you what you should expect to pay for a specific car,  consumer advocate apps to check the vehicle's history or a dealer's reputation and finally, car payment calculator apps to look into financing. 

Convenience is the key to the new high-tech trend.

"In the past, customers were spending up to 6 hours searching for and trying to buy automobiles at the dealership," said George Athan with DCH Auto Group. "With the new technology, we're finding that that time spent at the dealership has been reduced to three, four hours and in some cases even more."

Athan oversees sales and hopes technology will continue to drive down buyer's time at the dealer, to as low as one hour!  Digital dealerships, where you can essentially build a car on the spot, could help speed things along in the future.

"They can set up showrooms pretty much anywhere, whether it's at the mall, or a music festival, or a local town fair," said Reiss.

Audi has digital showrooms in London and Shanghai, and others are planning similar projects.

Athan believes these high tech trends will continue to gain traction, with things like iPads on showroom floors.

"It's just exciting times," said Athan. "It's changing at light speed.  The buyer is much different, better informed."

But experts say all this advancement doesn't mean people can detour the dealerships altogether.

"These apps are not going to negotiate for you the magic deal on your dream car that costs you nothing," said Reiss.  "You still have to do the negotiating in person."

Dunn, who uses technology for most of her research, agrees.

"I would definitely have to go to the, to the lot and see it before I agreed to anything," she said.

Some deals are even handled via text message., the digital marketplace where you can find people to take over an unwanted car lease, is reporting that up to 25% of its transactions involve texts

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