Caravans rolling upmarket as holiday homes
Caravan park owners are upping their game to tempt buyers into holiday home ownership. Sharon Dale reports.
IF caravan holidays bring back memories of cramped tin cans filled with condensation sat in muddy fields with stand pipes and shower blocks, then you obviously haven’t sampled the 21st century static.
They’re spacious and warm with all mod cons including ensuites and the sites they sit on are well manicured and maintained.
This transformation began in the 1990s when many parks started to upgrade their “vans” and their facilities, realising that affordable holiday homes were a growth market.
The larger parks were boosted by venture capitalists who spotted their profit potential and ploughed investment into swimming pools, restaurants and entertainment complexes.
There are now over 300,000 statics on around 3,000 sites in Britain and the sector is continuing to move upmarket.
Last year, a three-bed caravan in Abersoch, Wales, sold for £550,000, though on most sites, they average from £10,000 second-hand and from £30,000 for a new one.
Although planning rules dictate that they can’t be your main residence, many parks now open ten or 11 months a year and a number allow you to let your caravan out to provide an income that might help pay the annual site fees of between £1,000 and £4,000 a month.
The difference between bricks and mortar and metal is that the latter will depreciate in value as it gets older, leases are often between 10 and 25 years and some parks require you to upgrade the caravan after 15 years. The benefits, apart from the low cost of the property, is that locations are usually excellent and diverse.
Those who want a quiet getaway go for small parks with no sub-letting. Others prefer bigger, livelier places with a host of amenities.
Bourne Leisure, which runs the popular Haven Holiday Parks, specialises in the latter.
Its flagship Yorkshire site, Primrose Valley at Filey, boasts everything from swimming pools and entertainment to restaurants, a golf course and a fishing lake.
Like many parks it is heading more upmarket to entice the cash-rich. Its new Lakeside development has lodge-style statics for up to £120,000. It has also created a swish lounge where owners can meet and enjoy free tea and coffee, free wi-fi and organised activities.
Thanks to the recession the company has some tempting deals. A pre-owned model costs from £14,999, while a new Horizon home is £23,495 with a year’s site fees worth £2,500, included.
“We’ve also set up a deal where you get £6,000 off the Horizon if you agree to let it through Haven for six weeks every year for three years to pay us back,” says sales rep Peter Daulton.
Haven has its own lettings office and owners renting out their caravan in peak season can get around £400 a week net.
The company also allow owners to keep their vans for as long as they like without upgrading.
“Around a third of owners let their caravans. It helps with the site fees and the running costs and insurance, which we estimate at £1,000 a year,” says Peter.
Haven Operations Director Peter Nicol adds that most buyers are retired and semi-retired.
“They often buy with the whole family in mind, so their children and grandchildren can come and stay,” he says.
Those who want complete peace and quiet will find plenty of small sites in Yorkshire. Howgill Lodge in Beamsley, near Skipton, is a prime example.
“We don’t have a club house or anything like that,” says owner Tony Foster. “We appeal to people who want to get away to somewhere quiet and enjoy the scenery and maybe do some walking.”
Tony has a second hand caravan for £15,950 and new ones from £32,950. Site fees are £1,962 a year. “It’s cheaper than buying a holiday cottage and it’s cheaper to run,” says Tony. “In fact it’s probably cheaper than some motor cars.”
The National Caravan Council has advice on buying and running a caravan holiday home on its website, www. holidaycaravaninfo.co,uk
Haven, tel: 0871 230 1299, www.havenholidayhomes.com
Howgill Lodge, www.howgilllodge.co.uk
There will be an annual pitch fee and additional services may be charged for including gas/oil, electricity, water, sewerage and insurance.
No. This is covered by the pitch fee.
There are companies that specialise in finance for leisure accommodation and larger caravan site operators can often help you arrange this.
No because you do not own the land.
DRIVING FORCE: The house offers a live-work opportunity with its garage space, and the chance to own a classic Triumph Stag sports car.
MOD CONS: Caravans have come along way since the 70s. This holiday home from Haven has a luxurious interior.