Parking Propels Real Estate Bubble in Beijing

What's causing underground parking spaces to go for $160,000 in Beijing? Quartz reports that demand, narrow roads, resident disenfranchisement and old zoning law give developers the upper-hand.

Read Time: 2 minutes

May 26, 2014, 11:00 AM PDT

By Michael Newton


Gwynn Guilford writes of $100,000 parking spaces commonly found in Beijing. Underground parking contributes to China’s real estate speculation, led by “greedy property developers” and growing demand for automobiles. The article stresses that two variables account for why Beijing has some of the world’s most expensive parking spaces: growing car ownership and lack of proper legal knowledge and enforcement means residents pay exorbitant rates—perhaps on parcels they already own.

Thee real backstory here, according to Guilford, is that: “Zoning plans haven’t kept up with Beijing’s embrace of car culture; many slightly older developments were designed without allotting ample parking spaces," and on-street parking is rarely permitted.

The issue is more nuanced: “Beijing has among the lowest ratio of roads per overall land area of any major metropolis in the world…“ and with a population of 7.5 million cars—or a car for every 2.5 residents—private parking is prioritized. While the government vows to reduce a million cars by toying with the license plate lottery, that impending policy has created a "car buying surge" and with it, a "parking spot bubble" in real estate. Values even 30 miles from Beijing’s core cost more than the car itself.

Guilford details further Chinese property laws and elaborates on why residents are willing to pay inflated rents. This, she writes, is due to lack of knowledge about property law or the legal channels to enforce the law, meaning that developers contribute to the scarcity and exact skyrocketing prices “…for a parking space that [residents] legally own.”

Sunday, May 25, 2014 in Quartz

Chicago Commute

The Right to Mobility

As we consider how to decarbonize transportation, preserving mobility, especially for lower- and middle-income people, must be a priority.

January 26, 2023 - Angie Schmitt

Green bike lane with flexible delineators and textures paint in Hoboken, New Jersey

America’s Best New Bike Lanes

PeopleForBikes highlights some of the most exciting new bike infrastructure projects completed in 2022.

January 31, 2023 - PeopleforBikes

Sharrow bike markings on black asphalt two-lane road with snowy trees

Early Sharrow Booster: ‘I Was Wrong’

The lane marking was meant to raise awareness and instill shared respect among drivers and cyclists. But their inefficiency has led supporters to denounce sharrows, pushing instead for more robust bike infrastructure that truly protects riders.

January 26, 2023 - Streetsblog USA

A tent covered in blue and black tarps sits on a downtown Los Angeles sidewalk with the white ziggurat-topped L.A. City Hall looming in the background

L.A. County Towns Clash Over Homelessness Policies

Local governments often come to different conclusions about how to address homelessness within their respective borders, but varying approaches only exacerbate the problem.

February 3 - Shelterforce Magazine

Rendering of mixed-use development with parks and stormwater retention on former Houston landfill site

A Mixed-Use Vision for Houston Landfill Site

A local nonprofit is urging the city to consider adding mixed-use development to the site, which city officials plan to turn into a stormwater detention facility.

February 3 - Urban Edge

Aerial view of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin at sunset

Milwaukee County Makes Substantial Progress on Homelessness

In 2022, the county’s point-in-time count of unhoused people reflected just 18 individuals, the lowest in the country.

February 3 - Urban Milwaukee