London Garage Sold For £550,000!

Residential and commercial properties are not giving enough bang for your investment buck; following our reports on grime-covered, teeny-tiny but highly coveted parking spaces in Hong Kong and Boston which were sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars, comes news of run-down garages in London which are selling for record high prices. The real gold mine, ladies and gentlemen, is now found in parking spaces.

Last April, a garage in Camberwell (pictured above and left) was sold when the auction gavel slammed down at £550,000 (US$940,000!), way beyond the recommended price of £200,000 provided by auctioneers Andrew Scott Robertson. The 586sqf space, enclosed by an empty brick shell, is now worth three times more than average homes in England and Wales. The garage was previously used to park the car of the Mayor of Southwark, and the council was delighted with the unexpected sale price. The proceeds will go to improving libraries, parks and other facilities for the community. “Hurrah!” for the people of Southwark.

Recently, another London garage, this one in Hackney, has been put on the auction market. The recommended price of the 240sqf unit is £375,000 (US$637,000), which equates to more than £1560 per square feet, 60% more than the per square feet price of the Camberwell garage – the value of space to park our cars in prime locations must no longer be underestimated.

The garage in Hackney which could sell for £375,000

Even in China, a parking spot in major cities are beginning to cost more than the vehicle itself. In Beijing, a basement parking lot in luxury buildings can sell for more than a million yuan (US$160 000). In this case, it is not land that is limited, but the existing infrastructure incapable of supporting the car-buying frenzy that has overcome the good people of China. Older buildings do not have sufficient allocation of parking facilities and (legal) street parking is hard to find.

Beijing has one of the lowest road to land area ratio compared to other major cities of the world. The city’s effort to reduce car ownership by a million due to the toxic soup of air that the citizens dwell in should theoretically reduce the demand for parking spaces, but the pruning exercise facilitated by emissions test may affect mostly older cars, which are owned by suburban dwellers; luxury vehicles will continue to compete for prime parking locations. Government policies encouraging more electric vehicles is great for clearing up the noxious fumes, but do not change the fact that parking infrastructure is limited. It is time, perhaps, for the Chinese government to take A-Mod technology into serious consideration – hop into a self-driving car and hop off at your destination, without needing to park.

Across the great Pacific pond, in San Francisco, ingenious technopreneurs have concocted a mobile app to reduce the frustration of searching for a car park (looking for a needle in a haystack would be a preferable activity). Sweetch allows users who vacate their parking lot to text their departure to another user, who then occupies the space and pays a US$5 fee to the former user. The user who receives the fee has the option to donate the money to charity instead – help someone find a parking spot and give to charity at the same time? Double karma points!


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