Park homes offer a way to buy a well-appointed, cosy home without breaking the bank. Diana Wildman reports
SHRUGGING off their outdated, spartan image, park home estates these days often consist of chic, eco-friendly properties and in today’s cash-strapped times they can offer a modestly priced alternative to a retirement bungalow or holiday home.
Most sites are in beautiful countryside and offer leisure facilities such as a swimming pool and tennis courts as well as a restaurant, bar and shop.
It is worth remembering that, although thousands of people over the past few years have moved into a park home, thus releasing far more equity than if buying into conventional bricks and mortar, they are not buying the land.
So often, the land underneath and the garden surrounding the property has to be rented from the estate’s owner at an average cost of £1,200 each year. This explains the huge price difference between a classic property and a park home.
Buying a park home is still a tempting way of supplementing the underperforming pension plans of many semi-retired and newly retired people seeking a permanent or second home.
Pure Leisure Group, whose headquarters are on the edge of the Lake District, was set up 20 years ago and owns the South Lakeland Leisure Village, one of a nationwide chain of park homes and holiday lodges. In an effort to boost sales, chairman John Morphet has offered a partexchange deal of £2,000 to anyone with a caravan more than 10 years old when purchasing a new home on one of his estates.
Mr Morphet said: “There couldn’t be a better time to kick-start the industry than now, when people are looking for value for money.
“My plan echoes the Government’s initiative to boost the car market, as well as being environmentallyfriendly. New park homes and lodges are substantially greener and safer than old ones, being much better insulated with more fuelefficient heating systems.
“Pure has designed a new luxury eco-home to meet the growing energy challenges. Annual carbon emissions are reduced considerably and heat loss is lowered by up to 56 per cent. The substantially lower annual running costs, which can be as little as £600 a year, will be very welcome too.”
Pure’s South Lakeland Leisure Village is 20 minutes from Windermere and recently received the David Bellamy Gold Conservation Award. It was opened in 2003 and has 150 lodges around the lakeside. Facilities include a restaurant, bar, spa, gym and indoor swimming pool. Owners can play golf at the adjacent Silverdale club and fully furnished threebedroom holiday homes start at £65,000.
Avon Estates owns and runs seven park home developments in rural Warwickshire, three of which are designated as principal homes for the over-55s.
Chairman Nic Allen said: “We are a 25-year-old family-run company and we take great pride in helping our buyers get the best out of the pitch they have chosen.
“For most people it is the last move they will make and provides the customer with a great way to age gracefully with like-minded people. Our homes are very economical to run, do not attract stamp duty and are council tax band A.
Our monthly maintenance charge is £103, which is put towards communal roads, lighting, signposting and upkeep of things like estate security.
“Our parks have the feel of traditional villages, making them friendly and safe places to live. We offer new and pre-owned homes designed to a high standard.”
St Mary’s, in Wythall, is one of Avon’s most popular residential sites and lies in tranquil countryside, yet the village is just six miles from the centre of Birmingham.
Both Heathcote and Redlands residential parks are five miles from Warwick. Prices for a new unit start at £125,000 for a spacious home, with the most expensive three-bedder costing £225,000.
Those seeking a strictly holiday home base at prices from £24,000 could consider one of the nine parks owned by Island Meadow Parks. Most are in East Anglia, including Poppyfields in Suffolk, which is surrounded by Thetford Forest Park, and, for sailing fans, another is Kingfisher, close to the Norfolk Broads.
Haulfryn’s Finlake Holiday Park in Chudleigh, Devon, has lodges for sale from £59,995 with a buy-to-let package offered by the company. In addition, Haulfryn offers, subject to status, a nought per cent finance package.
Pure International: 01524 784222/ www.lakelandleisurevillage.co.uk
Avon Estates: 07790 026552/ www.stratfordcaravans.co.uk
Island Meadow Parks: 01243 670207/ www.islandmeadow.co.uk
Haulfryn: 01626 855 242/ www.finlake.co.uk
Make sure you have security of tenure on the land and that the estate owner cannot give you unreasonable notice to quit
Remember, it is just the unit you are buying, not the land it sits on
Check the ground rent and annual charges. Do you have control over any future increase in costs?
Some homes can be used as a principal residence, others as a second home only
Always seek independent legal and fi nancial advice before signing any sales contract