Apps, other services help city dwellers stash their cars

  • Feb. 13, 2018 1:52 p.m.

Many, if not most, urban homes do not include parking. So for those with wheels, finding an affordable home — for the car, that is — can present special challenges.

In many urban apartment buildings, spaces in the garage are sold or rented separately from the apartment itself. Rents for a parking space in expensive cities like New York can cost hundreds of dollars a month, and parking spaces sometimes sell for over $200,000.

A slew of apps and other online services have appeared to help city dwellers across the country find parking.

“The most in-demand locations for residential parking are San Francisco, Boston, New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles,” says Michael Rosenbaum, CEO and founder of spacer.com and parkhound.com.au, sites that match up those with parking to spare and those in need of a spot.

“Renting a car space from a friendly neighbour in your community makes sense, as it is tapping into under-utilized assets that are sitting idle all around us,” he says.

SpotHero.com lists parking spaces — mainly excess vacancies in hotel garages — in the United States and Canada. Listings also include offerings of space in home garages or driveways.

Park Whiz is another source for short- or long-term parking spaces. It’s designed to work with Amazon Alexa, so spaces can be reserved via voice commands. Parkingcupid.com , yet another service linking those with parking spaces to those in need of them, also features a sample rental lease to give some legal protection to both parties.

Experts warn that before you put your city parking space up for rent, you should check building rules. Many condo and apartment buildings don’t allow residents to rent out parking spots to people who don’t live in the building, especially when entry to the parking garage is secured and leads directly inside the building.

Detached garages tend to have fewer regulations about parking space rentals.

And for those in search of a secure and reliable parking space, going through an established service is often a safer bet than going it alone.

“We always recommend that people go through a reputable marketplace so that their money is transacted in a secure environment and they have access to dispute resolution in case something doesn’t go quite right,” Rosenbaum says.

For those looking to buy a space as opposed to renting, the price tags in coveted areas are not for the faint of heart. But the amenities and long-term value are hard to ignore.

At The Parking Club Condo, a stand-alone parking building in Brooklyn, spots include a valet service (through DropCar ) that helps deliver your car to or from airports, Manhattan and much of Brooklyn and Queens, along with other luxuries. Car owners hardly have to go to the garage themselves.

Simon Anderson, an associate broker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate who is responsible for marketing and sales at The Parking Club Condo, says that although most sales are in cash, the condo works with a bank that provides loans for up to 65 per cent of the cost.

“You own the parking condo just like you would a home, with discretion to buy and sell. And we’ve found that if you include a parking space like this in the purchase of a home, it significantly enhances the sale value,” says Anderson.

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