OK: you're in the middle of a GREAT HOLIDAY and have been looking at all the "wonderful" Holiday Homes the park has for sale and think it would be just fabulous to have your own Static Caravan to be able to stay at whenever you wanted to?
Read on & just make sure you are 100% certain before you make any decisions!
Always Find Your Park First!
- Don't even look for a Holiday Home until you have decided where you want it to be!
- Stay at lots of different parks in the area you have chosen, before you decide which one suits you best. If you show "interest" as a potential buyer, you may find the park will be able to offer you a discounted stay, (but don't rely on that!)
- Take into consideration the facilities available on park and around it.
- Talk to Owners: they will give you a far better insight into the park. The sales office staff will tell you what you want to hear, (they are on commission after all!), current owners will tell you the "warts 'n' all" version!
- Find owners groups on Facebook for the park you are interested in - ask questions and try to get a balanced viewpoint.
- If you find your park and then can't find a suitable Holiday Home, the sales office will be able to look UK-wide on their company's stock list for you and they can arrange for you to view it at its current location... if it's "the one" - they will arrange to have it transported for you. (Bear in mind, this would have to be the same company - as an example: a Holiday Home for sale at one Park Resorts site could be bought and moved to another Park Resorts site for you... it cannot be bought on Haven and moved to Park Resorts as part of the sale!)
7.5 /10/ 12 Month opening seasons:
- Regardless of what the advertising or sales staff might promote: be aware that the majority of parks will have a "closed season" unless it is a 12-month residential park.
- The majority of non-residential parks will shut all the facilities down when their own park-rentals cease (usually after the half term in October) and don't re-open them again until they start the park-rentals once more, (usually mid to late March.) So don't expect to be able to stay with use of pools and full entertainment in November!
- Ask what the "rules" are for closed season: some parks will allow you to stay overnight until the park closes for winter and allow you to visit during daylight hours until it re-opens.... some parks will not allow you access to your Holiday Home at all during the closed period... some (12-month-opening) parks will allow you to stay overnight for the full year (but there won't be any facilities available, as above!)
Costs (the "biggy!"):
- There are a huge amount of costs involved with owning a Holiday Home and you really MUST make yourself aware of ALL of them before you even consider buying. These will vary from park-to-park and from area-to-area, which is why it's a very good idea to speak to Owners, as you will get a very honest picture of how much everything actually is on your chosen park.
- There will usually be a huge "range" of annual site fees and depending on where the Holiday Home is sited on the park, some areas will be way more expensive than others:- if you want a "premium" pitch:- expect to pay "premium" prices! The park will usually use their lowest figure on their advertising, so if you see a poster saying site fees are "only £2000 a year" - that will be their lowest range available and could rise by several thousands for premium pitches.
- Most parks will "include" the first year's fees in the sale of the Holiday Home and word it as "free site fees"... don't be fooled by that! It's not "free" - it will be worked into the costings for the sale price of your new Holiday Home!
- Be aware that this "1st year free" offer is also not a "full year" as all parks work to "seasons", so the "year" quoted will only cover you to the end of that season: not a full 12 months... for example if you bought in June, your site fees would not be covered until the following June! They would be covered until the end of that current season, which is usually towards the end of the calendar year.
- Most parks will offer a "fixed rate" on site fees for x-number of years. Make sure you are aware of how long this rate is valid for and what % to expect the site fees to increase by, after that term has ended. There's no point in budgeting for an amount that will last 2 years & then finding it is unaffordable on year 3.
- A lot of the bigger holiday companies will run a "referral" scheme... where again, it's in your favour to talk to Owners! If an Owner "recommends" you and you complete the purchase, they will receive a discount on their next year's site fees - and SO WILL YOU! So when your invoice is received for that first payable year's site fees, it will be discounted. Well worth looking into as a new Owner and current Owners will be fighting over you to get the referral on their park account! (This is never paid in "cash" - it is always a credit to the park account held!)
- Site fees are always billed annually, payment due dates vary from park to park - so find out when they will be due. Some offer a discount if paid in full, some don't. Most will offer the option of paying monthly via direct debit:- just check out any interest charges made (if any) for this payment method.
- Also be aware, that should you sell or move your Holiday Home part-way through the season and have already paid that year's site fees in full:- don't expect a full refund! All you will receive is a % of the fees already pre-paid to the month of your move or sale & if you are paying via a monthly direct debit, there may even be an invoice heading your way.
A Holiday Home is no different to another other property and there are still utilities to be paid!
- Gas: Check whether this is supplied piped, or bottled. If it's piped, ask when this is invoiced, how often and what the current charges are. Expect it to increase on a yearly basis. If it's bottled, find out how much each tank costs. This is usually anywhere between £55-£70 per tank, depending on the park and again usually increases every year. Most parks will not allow the gas tanks to be purchased off-site. The sales office will usually under-estimate usage, so be aware of that! ("you'll only need 2 bottles a season" can sometimes actually mean 6 or 7 depending on the use of the Holiday Home!)
- Most parks will not supply a new gas tank "on credit" so make sure you always have enough funds to cover replacements... Holiday Homes with no gas are no fun at all!
- Electricity: Find out roughly how much to expect and when payment is due. Take regular readings yourself and make sure they tally to the invoice received! You'll probably find there is also an annual charge for "reading the meter"... this can be anywhere between about £50-£100 annually.
- Water & Sewage Rates: These vary dramatically from park to park. Most will work out as an even % of all the pitches on park (effectively the park bill is divided between all the pitches), so everyone pays the same regardless of actual usage. (Lots of Owners feel this should be metered to make it a little fairer, but so far very few Holiday Companies have accepted this method!) Again, find out roughly how much to expect and when payment will be due. This can be anywhere between £350-£700 a year.
All Holiday Homes must be insured to remain on park.
- Usually the insurance will be included in the sale and some will offer a "cooling-off" period which will enable you to find your own, however some will not and will insist you insure through their recommended insurers. Ensure you are aware of what your chosen park's regulations are with regard to insurance.
- Just check the small print of the policy carefully before you decide to accept it or find your own! Make sure it covers everything you need it to. If you are intending on renting out: you MUST ensure you have a "malicious damage" clause, which most standard holiday-park insurance will not have included.
- All Holiday Homes must have an annual gas safety check. The first one should be included in the sale price. After that, it's down to you and is usually between £60-100.
- All Holiday Homes must have a 3-yearly electrical safety check. Again, the first one should be included in the sale price. This is around £70-£120.
- If you intend to rent, check with your park regarding PAT-testing.... Some will insist all electrical appliances in the Holiday Home are PAT-tested annually, some will not require this to be done.
- Owning a Holiday Home is no different to owning a 2nd house! They will always be on-going maintenance issues to pay for! Don't be caught out by unexpected bills!
- Check with your park, as some do not allow an "outside" company to carry out work on your property but some are happy for you to find a local qualified tradesman (which is usually way cheaper than through the park!)
- Don't be afraid to barter with the sales office! They need you more than you need them...
- Never agree to sign the paperwork straight away, always ask to take it away and read through it in your own time. Make sure you go through every page and read the small print carefully.
- Get anything they offer you in writing - this is really important as otherwise it's your word against theirs, and trust us, they will use this to their advantage.
- Never buy whilst you are on holiday! You still have your "holiday-head" on... Do your research during your stay, go home and think about it all very carefully before you make a decision. You can always take a day trip back to the park to discuss it further... and some parks will offer the refund of a weekend stay if you purchase, so you could even go and stay in a park-rental whilst you make the final arrangements.
- When you're viewing a Holiday Home, keep your wits about you! Don't get carried away with the pictures in your head of wonderful endless summer holidays... look for faults! Look for signs of water damage, mould, check all windows & doors open & close etc etc. Be "picky."
What Should be Included in the Cost of the Sale:
- The Holiday Home itself (!) All basic fixtures and fittings: seating, beds and mattresses, dining table, wardrobes (usually fitted), W.C, shower, (and sink!), gas fire, oven and you usually get an under-counter fridge. Anything else is down to you to buy.
- Siting (moving it to the pitch you have chosen.)
- Connection fees (water, electricity & gas.)
- TV aerial & connection. (Bear in mind these do not actually belong to you if you move or sell:- they will still "belong" to the park)
- Usually the remainder of that season's site fees.
- Initial insurance (see above!)
- Gas & electric safety certificates.
- Owners passes: these vary from park to park with regards to numbers, but usually will be to the berth of your property (ie: an 8-berth can have 8 passes.) These will allow you or your chosen family and friends to use all facilities free of charge. They are NOT permitted to be "lent out" to guests!
Private Sales v Park Sales:
Generally, it isn't made easy to process a private sale - although not impossible! There's a lot of red tape involved!
- There will be fees to pay to the park with a private sale. The norm is around 15% of the sale price - this is usually negotiated between buyer & Owner as to who foots that bill.
- Lots of people are under the misunderstanding that you can just "swap names" on the ownership papers, especially if you "say" the new Owners are family members... This is not the case! If you are transferring Ownership to a family member, the park's HQ will require proof of ID for both parties, along with proof of "relationship" (birth certificates, marriage certificates etc etc.) They will not transfer ownership without these. So unless you can prove that the bloke you met in the pub last night and bought a Holiday Home from is your long-lost Uncle - forget that idea!
You've probably all seen or heard the "Love your Holiday Home, but not your Park? Move for FREE" adverts?? Hmmmm... read on!
- Every park will lose money if you process a "bring-on" - yes they have your site fees, but they don't have your sale! So they will usually try to persuade you to part-exchange your current Holiday Home for an "upgrade" on their park, thus gaining your site fees AND a sale!
- Most parks only ever reserve a very limited number of "bring-on" pitches, that has been known to be just two across an entire park... These are also usually the pitches no-one else wants! So be aware unless you are willing to pay additional site fees to "upgrade" the pitch, you may end up in a less than desirable part of the park!
- Even if the park has a "no age limit" ruling on their own Holiday Homes... they will usually say they won't accept a "bring-on" if it is over 10-years (& then mention a part-ex again.)
- They advertise as "free" transport... unfortunately nothing in life is free. The "free" transport is capped and usually covers the first 10 miles or so... so if you are moving your Holiday Home from Cornwall to Wales, you won't get very far before your bills are mounting!
- Should you choose to finance your Holiday Home outright, or take out finance:- bills must be kept up-to-date. All parks are very quick to action any non-payments, whether that be on the Holiday Home itself, or general bills for it. There is literally very little leeway with this and parks have been known to "chase" for as little as an outstanding £3.00 on the account. So make sure everything is paid on time, or they can, and usually will, disconnect your Holiday Home making it "unusable."
- If you are struggling with bills, make an appointment with the General Manager as soon as possible, there's no point in hiding the situation. Most GMs will try to do what they can to help, which may have to be authorised by the company's HQ.
- If it gets to the stage where a resolution cannot be found, the Holiday Home will be effectively "re-possessed" - you will lose every penny spent on it and it'll probably be back up on the sales ground within a few weeks.
- All sales staff will tell you you can "re-coup all of your costs through renting." Don't believe that for a moment! You can aim to cover as many fees as possible, but renting is no easy task & to re-coup your entire outlay is unrealistic. See our "renting-blog" for more details!
Is just massive on Holiday Homes... you will lose far more than you will when you drive a new car from the forecourt!
- The moment you sign the Ownership papers, if you sell back to park:- you will lose thousands. Never think otherwise!
- As an example:- a brand new 2-bed Holiday Home was bought in Kent during the summer of 2012 at £35,000. It was sold back to park in June 2014 at £8,000, then re-sold via the sales office at £22,000. That's usual... You will NEVER re-coup your cost price on a new property.
Please make sure you are aware of all of these issues before you "dive" into the world of Holiday Home Ownership... it really is not a "cheap hobby" and needs serious consideration before any decisions are made!