As carmakers race to sell glitzy new models to wealthy Chinese, the old-fashioned golf cart is the hottest buy in one corner of Hong Kong, with prices topping those of a Tesla Model S and Porsche’s Boxster sports cars.
On the two-lane streets of Discovery Bay — a residential development about a 30-minute ferry ride from downtown Hong Kong — the golf carts are both the transportation of choice and an investment play for the wealthy. The buggies can sell for more than HK$2 million ($255,000) in the upscale neighborhood that’s home to airline pilots, bankers and lawyers.
Business executives drive them, expatriates love them and nannies ferry kids to school in them. Private passenger cars aren’t allowed in this neighborhood, and the Transport Department has capped golf-cart licenses at about 500. The supply crunch has transformed these slow gas-guzzlers into luxury transportation. Some buyers view them as investments — renting them out or reselling to make money.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty ImagesA golf cart stands parked next to a hiking trail in Discovery Bay
Outrageously high prices aren’t an oddity in Hong Kong. Asia’s financial capital regularly appears on lists of the world’s most expensive cities, and property prices are the world’s most unaffordable relative to income. Faced with rock-bottom interest rates and soaring housing prices, city residents have been known to put their money into unusual investments — including high-priced parking lots and taxi medallions.
“You have HK$2 million, better buy a golf buggy rather than put it in the bank,” said Bill Chan, a director at real-estate agency Century 21 Newcourt Realty in Discovery Bay.
Golf carts can be bought for less than $10,000 in the U.S. In Discovery Bay, buyers are essentially paying for the licenses, which can only be owned by residents who also own property. They can be freely traded between individual owners.
That leads to prices typically associated with luxury wheels — the kinds that include windows, air conditioning and a trunk. Tesla lists its Model S at HK$1.03 million, and Porsche lists its 718 Boxster model at HK$972,000 on its website.
Golf carts attract buyers partly because of the punishing cost of real-estate investments in Hong Kong: There isn’t much you can buy in the property market if you have HK$2 million to spare.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty ImagesGolf carts stand parked in front of low-rise buildings in Discovery Bay
Private homes in Discovery Bay currently sell from about HK$8 million to HK$80 million, said Denis Ma, head of research for Hong Kong at real-estate services company Jones Lang LaSalle Ltd.
Based on recent transactions, his firm estimates that prices in Hong Kong’s Central and Western districts start from HK$5 million for smaller apartments in older buildings. They go as high as about HK$1 billion for houses on the Peak, one of the highest points in the city.
Discovery Bay residents are generally reluctant to publicize their outlays on golf carts. One expatriate shopper, who walked out of a supermarket to dump groceries into the back of her golf buggy, declined to give her …read more
Source:: Time – World