Car­a­vans rolling up­mar­ket as hol­i­day homes

Car­a­van park own­ers are up­ping their game to tempt buy­ers into hol­i­day home own­er­ship. Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

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. hol­i­day­car­a­van­,uk

Haven, tel: 0871 230 1299, www.haven­hol­i­day­

Howgill Lodge, www.howgill­

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.

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