Car park craze as HK property cools
Market watch top headlines
HONG KONG, Dec 2 AFP
December 02 2012, 5:10PM
Curbs on buying property in Hong Kong have cooled a market pushed sky-high by mainland Chinese investors. But the steps have sparked a craze for an unlikely new investment - car parking space.
The Asian financial hub slapped new taxes on residential properties in late October to rein in prices, amid growing complaints from Hong Kong citizens that buying even a tiny apartment was now out of their reach.
Mainland Chinese buyers were largely blamed for the increase in prices, which have skyrocketed by 90 per cent since 2009 as they flocked to the city with their new wealth amid the country's economic boom.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying hoped the curbs would calm anger over the issue in the space-starved southern city of seven million people, after previous promises of making more land available did little to help the situation.
The curbs appear to be working but have also had unusual side-effects, with the city's imaginative investors now focusing on car parking spaces, which analysts say could hit an all-time high.
The issue grabbed the public's attention with a single sale of parking spaces for $HK1.3 million ($A160,510) last month, according to reports.
It was the most expensive sale when tycoon Li Ka-shing's flagship Cheung Kong Holdings offloaded 514 car park slots for a total of $HK600 million.
Some of the slots, located in the New Territories area of Hong Kong bordering mainland China, were reportedly quickly resold for profits of up to $HK300,000 each.
People who sell the spaces said they had seen a surge in activity, which they believed was because the slots are not affected by the new taxes, as well as being maintenance-free and relatively cheaper than buying a property.
They say car parking spaces were not previously a popular investment in a city which has only about half a million private cars and is well connected by a vast public transport system.