Parking Your Money




Hong Kong has a population density of over 16,000 people per square mile (about 6,500 per kilometer-squared). This puts the region as the second most dense sovereign state or dependent territory with a population of at least one million people. (Only Singapore is more densely populated.) And for that reason, real estate in Hong Kong gets pricey, and quickly. From 2010 through 2012, housing prices soared 50%, per CNN, making an affordable home a pipe dream — and sparking fears of a future recession spurred by a “bubble” of overvalued real estate popping.

To combat rampant housing price increases, the Hong Kong government issued a series of taxes increases aimed at foreign purchasers, hoping to soften demand until the housing supply caught up. This left many investors on the sideline, looking for other places to put their money. And one type of real estate left untouched by the aforementioned regulations found itself the object of all this cash.

And that’s how one guy ended up with two parking spots valued at roughly $640,000 — each.

Given that a typical parking spot in Hong Kong will run the car owner about $750 a month, that’s a huge price — it’d take over seventy years before the monthly fee caught up — the whole idea seems doubly outlandish. But the man who owns the spot would know. He is Jacinto Tong, the CEO of a real estate development group called the Gale Well Group. As CNN notes, Tong — dubbed “the tycoon of parking spaces” in Hong Kong — owns a pair of spots which, due to their location within a sought-after commercial building (“you can go straight to the office and the elevator,” notes Tong, “only 20 steps — 20 steps!”) can fetch an exorbitant price if they were put up for sale. Tong, who has used his spaces for the last decade, claimed not to be eager to sell, but apparently had the value of the 100 or so square feet of concrete appraised nonetheless.

While the price seems outlandish, even if Tong were to receive north of half a million dollars for each spot, that may not be a record — perhaps not even close. As the New York Post reported, there’s a spot in Manhattan with an asking price of $1 million.


Bonus fact: As well-publicized, Google is working on a self-driving car. (Here’s a video of a prototype in action.) While some of the advantages of such a creation are obvious, Google’s CEO and co-founder Larry Page told Fortune about one that is less so: it helps save on parking costs. Not for the drivers, though, but for their employers. Fortune, citing Page, says that Google’s headquarters “is short on parking, and quotes for new garages have come in at $40,000 per car.” As Page notes, a self-driving car would allow for a virtual valet service, eliminating the need for nearby parking, and allowing for a dramatic reduction in the cost of parking.

From the ArchivesNo Parking: How Singapore deals with parking demands.

Related: “Rethinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking” by Eran Ben-Joseph. Two reviews, one of 5 stars and one of 4.

Photo above (larger version here and much larger version here) of the Hong Kong skyline from December 13, 2007, by David Iliff, used under a Creative Commons license.