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July 13, 2007

The Inequality Files

$225,000 for a parking space? Seriously?

Update: This almost seems like parody:

Cynthia Habberstad is at the top of that list. She chose not to buy a spot when they were selling for $165,000, but changed her mind only to learn that all the spaces had been taken.

“At first, I was getting overwhelmed and didn’t want to spend the money,” Ms. Habberstad said. “I’m kicking myself now, believe me.”

She and her three children, ages 7, 9 and 11, live on Long Island, but the children’s modeling schedules bring them into the city at least twice a week, and the apartment they bought in the building will be a pied-à-terre.

“If we’re coming in late from dinner or we have a lot of stuff in the car, do we really want to have to walk a few blocks to get home?” Ms. Habberstad said. “It all makes sense now that I don’t have it.”

July 13, 2007 | Permalink


So, this is why parking is so bad in most cities. Seriously, we should just abolish private parking.

Posted by: soullite | Jul 13, 2007 9:16:25 AM

Admittedly I live nowhere near New York, but that price actually sounded somewhat low. Compare it to 1-bedroom condo prices in desirable areas of NYC, Chicago, San Francisco.


Posted by: Cranky Observer | Jul 13, 2007 9:42:37 AM

Cry me a river.

Posted by: Stephen | Jul 13, 2007 9:58:55 AM

That's quite a leap, soullite. How exactly would abolishing private parking ensure that this woman gets to park closer to her home?

Posted by: mike | Jul 13, 2007 10:33:44 AM

My uncle sold his NYC parking spot and retired and moved to Delaware with the proceeds. And that was 10 years ago.

Posted by: spike | Jul 13, 2007 10:38:26 AM

I don't understand why this was a front-page story in the NY Times.

Posted by: CParis | Jul 13, 2007 10:41:15 AM

In some ways this is a good thing. At least it internalizes the cost of the parking places. I'm glad, for example, that I'm not paying my share of the taxes that would be required to make such a space available for free. (And indeed, one of the ways that car culture is subsidized in other parts of the country is that businesses get a tax break for supplying free parking spaces to employees or customers instead of the tax surcharge they should get for the excess consumption of public resources.)

Posted by: paul | Jul 13, 2007 11:03:04 AM

I don't understand why this was a front-page story in the NY Times.

The target market for the Times is upper-middle class professionals in the NY Metro Area who have a predeliction for what's known as "real estate porn." This story hits all the right buttons for their readership.

Posted by: Tyro | Jul 13, 2007 11:06:23 AM

Journalists are so cute when they try to comprehend financial mathematics. If you put zero down on a $225,000 parking space, and finance the rest for 30 years at a mortgage rate of 3%, you have a monthly payment of about $950.* Therefore, if an equivalent parking space in Manhattan costs about $950, $225,000 isn't a bad deal.

And that doesn't even count the potential capital gains on the property as prices rise, or (at risk of double counting) the peace of mind of knowing you've locked in your $950 payment for 30 years.

I don't know how much monthly parking costs in Manhattan, but $950 sounds like the right ballpark -- it's only about triple what you have to pay in Chicago.

Therefore, the real lesson here is that journalists, even those pretending to be economic journalists, cannot be trusted with large sums of cash.

(* If you put 10% down, it's $850/mo; 20% down, $760/mo.)

Posted by: Stuart Eugene Thiel | Jul 13, 2007 11:13:25 AM

30 years at a mortgage rate of 3%

Can you give me the number of your lender?

Posted by: Tyro | Jul 13, 2007 11:32:18 AM

If you're only coming into town twice a week, I would have thought that $950 a month would cover enough taxis...

Posted by: ajay | Jul 13, 2007 11:56:19 AM

So, this Nytimes.com is a new, up-and-coming competitor to the Onion, right?

Posted by: witless chum | Jul 13, 2007 12:05:16 PM

Can you give me the number of your lender?

Not just a 3% mortgage, but 3% with nothing down! That's a heck of a good deal, you must admit.

Posted by: Steve | Jul 13, 2007 1:17:02 PM

Stuart hits it on the head. This is a financially smart move for someone with the wherewithal to buy what amounts to a second home -- something, for example, many older line workers at auto plants in Michigan have "up north."

But cripes, what's stopping these folks from parking at a park-and-ride in the suburbs or Queens, and riding the LIRR or the subway. I grew up in NYC. If this is how this lady thinks she's solving a problem, she has more money than sense.

Posted by: Rick | Jul 13, 2007 1:41:40 PM

Journalists are so cute when they try to comprehend financial mathematics. If you put zero down on a $225,000 parking space, and finance the rest for 30 years at a mortgage rate of 3%, you have a monthly payment of about $950.

A mortgage payment...to park? I think casting paying for a parking space in the same light as someone who's buying a house, makes the ineqaulity only that much more apparent.

Posted by: Xanthippas | Jul 13, 2007 2:15:20 PM

As to why this made the front page of the Times, this strikes me as one of those stories that slip in when the editors go on vacation and you get all kinds of weird things appear in the paper.

Posted by: think twice | Jul 13, 2007 3:00:26 PM

I'm not so sure a $200,000 space is worth it. Based on www.nycgarages.com, parking around 8th ave and 17th street seems to cost between $400 and $500 a month. If you put $10,000 down and pay about $1000 dollars a month for a mortgage, you're losing a lot.

If you hold on to the space long enough, I'm sure you'll come out ahead (it'll increase in value, and rental prices will continue to rise). If you want the space for only a few years, it's better to rent and invest the money you would have spent on the purchase elsewhere.

Posted by: EERac | Jul 13, 2007 6:05:38 PM

Honestly, people, just rent a chauffer. Then you and your modeling-contract children can ride in style.

How far back was the point of parody that this is news? I must have missed it. Nowadays, Lewis Black's bit about knowing you're wealthy when you hire a personal ball-washer seems likely to be the next trend.

Posted by: emjaybee | Jul 14, 2007 4:10:58 PM

Check out http://www.BestParking.com to compare all parking rates in Manhattan. Purchasing a space can be a wise investment - though it all depends on the monthly rate you would be paying.

Posted by: Benjamin Sann | Aug 19, 2007 1:33:48 AM

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