No free rides amid price spiral
It is probably easier in Guangzhou to buy a home for yourself rather than for your car.
In some parts of the city, the price of a parking space has touched highs of 1.1 million yuan ($171,938).
That is roughly equivalent to buying a 72-squaremeter unit when measured by Guangzhou’s average price for new homes in June, or 15,177 yuan per square meter, according to data from the Guangzhou Municipal Land Resources and Housing Administrative Bureau.
Some of the priciest parking spaces are at a residential project in the city’s old Yuexiu district.
According to the latest statistics from the Guangzhou Parking Association (GPA), most of the city’s parking spaces are priced between 300,000 yuan and 600,000 yuan.
Residents in the Guangdong provincial capital are now under increased pressure to secure a parking space, as a serious shortage adds to concerns over rising home prices since June in the traditionally affordable city.
Industry insiders say the number of private cars in Guangzhou has crossed 1.6 million. But there are only 660,000 parking spaces in the city and, of these, only about 350,000, or 53 percent, are in residential areas.
As many as 170,000, or 26 percent, are commercial facilities and the remaining 140,000, or 21 percent, are at public parking lots.
That means five cars have to compete for one parking spot in residential projects.
“There is a severe imbalance between supply and demand,” said Guo Junrong, deputy secretary general of the Association of Guangzhou Automobile Service Industry.
The shocking situation for parking lots in Guangzhou is expected to worsen when a new policy takes effect on Aug 15, under which all residential and commercial parking spaces will be subject to market price, ending the era of government controls over pricing.
Some in Guangzhou are concerned that parking costs would rise further and even make them unable to afford a car.
“I had intended to buy a car first before buying an apartment, but now I am not sure whether it is a wise decision,” said Fu Lei, 28, a surgeon working at a public hospital in Guangzhou.
“It seems that prices of parking spaces have been rising faster than those for housing. It is incredible,” he said.
According to government regulations, to be abolished this week, monthly rent for indoor parking space should be capped at 500 yuan, and at 200 yuan for outdoor spaces.
That does not seem like a big figure. But the reality is, the market has been trading at a much higher level. In some residential projects in Guangzhou’s Haizhu district, monthly rent for a parking space has soared to 2,300 yuan.
Even the average rental price in the district has risen to double the amount set by the government.
“Parking spaces in many residential projects have not been trading at government-proposed prices. Market-oriented transactions are already in play,” Pan Guofan, vicepresident of GPA, pointed out.
That is also the reason why Pan believes parking spaces will not become more costly after the new policy takes effect.
“Since the introduction of the Property Law in 2007, some parking space owners have already been selling their assets at market price according to the law. Therefore, the new policy will not cause a big impact in the short term,” noted Pan.
Other market watchers, meanwhile, question the upcoming regulation and suggest that parking spaces should not be traded freely.
Huang Shiding, head of the Urban Management Institute at the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences (GASS), believes that marketization cannot serve as a solution to the problem of parking space shortage.
“The government should consider how to increase parking spaces in public areas and not hand the issue over totally to the market.”
Peng Peng, a researcher at GASS, agreed. “When demand for parking spaces cannot be met, the government should intervene and offer guidance to ensure their proper use, rather than letting the issue go,” he said.