Statics on move as holiday home fetches £550,000
A record price has been paid for a holiday home in North Wales. Sharon Dale reports on why the static is becoming a desirable way of taking a break for many Britons.
STATIC caravans used to be considered a second-best sort of second home reserved for those who couldn’t afford a chocolatebox cottage or a villa in Spain.
But no longer and to prove it a luxury, three-bedroom static at The Warren in Abersoch, North Wales, has just been sold for £550,000.
According to the National Caravan Council, the half a million pound pad shows just how far parks have progressed since the days of stand pipes and shower blocks.
The revolution started in the early 1990’s when they began to upgrade their facilities and manufacturers introduced more luxurious caravans with all mod cons. Meanwhile, we longed for a quick and easy getaway as life got more stressful and we tired of road and airport delays.
The result is 330,000 privately owned holiday caravans in use at more than 3,000 sites across Britain.
National Caravan Council deputy director general Alicia Dunne says: “First lots of venture capital went into these parks. Then came staycationing, but savvy park owners realised that if this was to be sustainable longer term, our industry had to compete with the best that Europe – or indeed the world – had to offer. And that meant investing.
“Many parks have been refurbished and expanded to include top-flight leisure facilities such as entertainment complexes, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and sports courts.”
Costs for static caravans vary from about £10,000 for a second-hand home and pitch, to £80,000 for a new model. Most people buy with savings or by remortgaging their home, though bigger companies, like Haven, offer finance deals.
“The average holiday cottage now costs about £250,000, so they represent a very affordable way of buying a second home in a lovely location,” says Alicia.
“The old view of sitting in a caravan listening to the rain, with nothing to do except visit the ancient shower-block, is totally outdated.
“Parks have changed. They have good facilities, good security and a lot of them are open 10 and 11 months of the year now, so you can get good use for your money. A number also will let out your caravan for you, providing a good income.”
The crucial difference between bricks and mortar and metal is that while caravans are more affordable, they depreciate in value as they get older and the lease on their pitch gets shorter. You aren’t often allowed to use them as a main residence either.
Most holiday parks tend to sell caravans and pitches as a package and the pitch usually has a short lease between 10 and 25 years. A minority offer a 99 year lease.
You are usually required to upgrade your caravan after 15 years and there are annual site fees to pay, which range from about £1,000 to £4,000 a year.
The benefits, apart from the lower cost of the property, is that there are no stamp duty or legal fees to pay, little maintenance, a ready made community and added security. Locations are usually good and there is a lot of choice. Those who want a quiet getaway go for small parks with no sub letting, while others prefer bigger and livelier places.
Builder Graham Wilson, of Thirsk, bought a caravan with his partner at Haven’s Haggerston Castle site, set on a former country estate on the Northumberland coast.
It has an entertainment complex, shops and pools and owners can sub-let their home to holiday makers through Haven.
Graham says: “It’s only two hours from Thirsk, so we come up for weekends and holidays. We love it here and we enjoy the company and the socialising. In fact, we have more friends here than we have at home.”
Graham is a member of Owners Exclusive, which Haven operates for owners at their sites. The club has its own meeting room, gym, social events and special offers.
Rae Huntly, Owners Exclusive manager at Haggerston, says: “Our owners vary from youngsters to pensioners and an increasing number of business people and we have about 200 events for them a season. “They help create a sense of community, so much so that a group of us have just been on holiday to Germany together.”
Second-hand caravans at Haggerston range from £12,000 for a six-year old model and from £25,000 to £85,000 for a new one, but there is no age limit for the vans.
At family run Swale View caravan park near Richmond, the facilities extend to a children’s play area, but the natural beauty and riverside location are the main attractions at this stunning site.
Owner Andy Carter says: “There have been statics here since the war and my father bought the site in the 1960s, but things have changed quite a bit since then. We’ve upgraded and improved the facilities and we now have lodges too.”
A new caravan on the site costs from £15,000 and site fees are £2,200 a year.
“Our owners live up to an hour and half away and they come from north, south, east and west of the site. They come to getaway and relax.”
Before you buy, the National Caravan Council advises that you do your homework carefully.
Alicia Dunne says: “The first thing you should do is check that the park owner is a member of one of the trade associations, either the National Caravan Council or the British Holiday and Home Parks Association.
“On the legalities front, the major points to check are how long you can keep the caravan on the park and how many months a year the park is open. Then you can decide whether it is worthwhile buying.”
National Caravan Council Tel: 01252 318251, www. holidaycaravaninfo.co.uk
For more information about Haven’s 34 UK holiday parks and owning your own holiday home, call 0871 230 1299, www.havenholidayhomes. co.uk
Swale View Caravan Park tel: 01748 823106 or visit www. swaleviewpark.co.uk
Thirsk builder Graham Wilson bought at Haggerston Castle, top, in Northumberland, just off the A1 and close to the coast. Swale View Park, bottom, is a favourite with holiday home buyers from Yorkshire.
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