Smart investors turn tidy profit on car parking spaces

HONG KONG: "Covered Car Park, Caine Road, Mid-Levels West, Investment or self use — HK$530,000 (RM207,980.64)."

Listed on the Internet on Jan 1, this advertisement has so far had 48 "hits" as a growing number of investors explore alternatives to conventional investment targets.

Andrew Chan, an insurance industry executive, needs no convincing that car parking spaces are good investments.

"I was looking to invest in something with a budget of about HK$300,000. But the cost and risk of buying a property was high and on top of that I would have to pay a management fee and a mortgage if I couldn't sell the unit before the completion date of the deal," said Chan.

After weighing up the alternatives, he decided that car parking spaces, on offer at the time for between HK$200,000 and HK$300,000, with additional monthly management fees and costs of about HK$1,000, were an attractive alternative.

He bought his first car parking space at Park Central, in Tseung Kwan O, for about HK$280,000 in 2009 and within three months sold it for HK$300,000, he said.

"Since then I have bought and sold five car parking spaces. I just left them vacant and waited for offers." Having set a target return of 15%, he is down to owning two  remaining spaces, he said.

As with residential investment, however, supply is a major concern.

"I buy car parking space in large-scale housing estates only, particularly in estates where there are not many car spaces. You should also check to see if there are any public car parks or office buildings nearby," he said.

Since car parking spaces are strata-titled, buyers can apply for mortgage loans from banks that are able to accept the spaces as security.

Data from the Land Registry and estate agency Midland Realty shows the sales market for car parking spaces was active last year. Midland's research indicates 8,773 car parking spaces changed hands last year, 57% more than in 2009. The best year for sales was 1997 when there were 10,877 sales.

But the strong growth trend last year was interrupted after the government introduced additional stamp duties on quick property transactions in November, said Buggle Lau Ka-fai, chief analyst at Midland Realty. In the first two weeks of January there were just 232 transactions, he said, down 26.3% on the same period last month. But the tax measures had not affected car park sales as severely as they affected residential sales, he added. — SCMP
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