Buying a park home: 10 things to consider
Park home ownership differs from traditional bricks and mortar properties in that you own the home but not the land it sits on.
The owner of the land is the park operator, who will lease it to you. Because park homes are not linked to a plot of land, you can’t take out a mortgage, so other forms of finance have to be obtained if you want to go down that route
- Buying a park home: where do you start?
- Getting a budget for your park home
- Calculating solicitors' fees for buying a park home
- Should you buy a new or pre-owned park home?
- Buying a park home with part-exchange
- Can you live in a park home all year round?
- Pitch fees for park homes
- Following the park's rules
- Selling your park home
- Benefits of living in a park home
- About our magazines
Words by Val Chapman
#1 Buying a park home: where do you start?
If you are attracted to the concept of park home living, a good starting point is to visit a park home estate and discover if you think you would feel happy living on an estate of this type.
Key questions relate to the region in which you would consider living (coastal, countryside, near to towns, for example). Then you can find out what park home developments exist in the area that you are considering. The next step is to decide on the size, type and style of park homes that may suit you.
You may find that show homes are available to buy in an estate you are considering. Or you may choose your park home from the vast ranges made by park home manufacturers. The major manufacturers of park homes include Omar Group, Oakgrove Lodges & Park Homes, Willerby Bespoke, Pemberton Park & Leisure Homes, Stately-Albion, Lissett Homes, Prestige, and Tingdene Homes.
#2 Getting a budget for your park home
New park homes cost between £150,000 and well over £500,000; prices vary by area, just like prices of bricks and mortar properties. The interesting aspect of park home purchase is that they generally cost less than comparable bricks and mortar homes in any given area. Equally enticing is that, if you move from an area where house prices are high, to a park home in a region where prices are comparatively low, you stand to bank a sizeable sum in the course of the transaction.
#3 Calculating solicitors' fees for buying a park home
If you buy using a part-exchange scheme (many large park home developments groups offer part-exchange schemes), you may find that solicitors’ fees are taken care of by the part-exchange scheme. If not, you can ask your solicitor how much they charge for a park home conveyance.
#4 Should you buy a new or pre-owned park home?
(Photo courtesy of Oakgrove)
The type of park home you choose will be determined by a number of factors, including size, location, layout and style – but, inevitably, budget will be a big consideration. Park homes represent excellent value for money, especially when you consider that you are buying not just the home but all of the appliances, fixtures, fittings and furnishings inside it. You have nothing further to budget for.
A pre-owned residential park home might seem an attractively economical option but you do need to take into account the additional costs of renovations, modernisation and ongoing maintenance, which will undoubtedly be higher on older park homes – just as is the case when buying a bricks and mortar home. New and recently built park homes are insulated to a high degree of efficiency, meaning that heating bills are kept to a minimum. But that was not always the case; standards of insulation have risen dramatically over the last few decades and so older park homes may be less efficient in terms of heat retention.
A big advantage of choosing a new park home is that most park home manufacturers offer buyers the opportunity to have input into the interior look of their home. You can choose from ranges of different fabrics and furnishings from the standard. Or you can simply trust in the expertise of the manufacturing companies’ interior designers, who create stunning homes. It’s good to know that you can inject your own taste and colour preferences, just as you would if you were choosing furnishings for any other home.
Pre-owned park homes are sold via estate agents just like any other property. It’s vitally important that you have a survey carried out before you buy a pre-owned park home. A survey will highlight any work that will need to be done in the near future, as well as assessing the condition of the home. It’s important that the survey is carried out by a company that has specialist knowledge of the structure of park homes. Among companies that specialise in surveys for park homes is Subject II Survey.
#5 Buying a park home with part-exchange
Many of the major parks groups offer part-exchange schemes; these remove the hassles and uncertainties of selling on the open market. The park buys your existing property (the price is determined by valuations from two or more local estate agents). Some part-exchange schemes offer 100% of the market value.
One company that specialises in part exchange for park home purchase is Quickmove Properties. Quickmove points out that open-market house sales usually take 10-14 weeks to complete, whereas using part-exchange, completion is typically within four weeks. This is among schemes that enable you to stay an extra two weeks in your existing property after completion, so that you can move into your park home gradually, rather than having to move out and in on the same day.
#6 Can you live in a park home all year round?
Before buying a residential park home, it is vital to check that the park has residential park home planning permission and a licence from the local authority that allows you to live there all year. Some parks’ conditions mean you would have to move out for a month or two every year; these are licensed as holiday home parks. Before agreeing to sign, make sure you, or preferably a solicitor, check the park’s licence and your Written Agreement (the official document issued to buyers of park homes) with the park operator thoroughly. It has been known for people to somehow manage to buy a park home for year-round occupation and later discover that they are only allowed to stay for a limited portion of the year.
#7 Pitch fees for park homes
(Photo courtesy of Otter Valley)
A pitch fee is the charge – usually monthly – that you pay the park owner for use of your plot. This includes the ground rent for the land your home occupies plus the general upkeep and maintenance of the park’s communal areas and facilities, such as roads and street lighting. Fees vary depending on the site. A monthly charge can range from £120 to £200. Some parks may require your pitch fee monthly; others annually.
Before increasing pitch fees, the park owner must complete a Pitch Fee Review Notice and provide 28 days’ written notice, explaining the proposed changes in detail. Any disputes over increases are resolved through a Government tribunal.
In addition to your pitch fees, you will, of course, have to pay for electricity, gas and water, just as you would for a bricks and mortar home. Normally the park owners will pay a central bill for the whole park, and charge individual residents based on how much they have used. Under Ofgem (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) rules, they can’t charge you for more than you have used.
You will need to pay your own Council Tax, which usually falls into Band A, the cheapest category. And you might also need to pay for ongoing maintenance on your plot.
#8 Following the park's rules
Every residential park home estate has its own rules and it is important to find out from the park owner in advance what these are.
There are rules that regulate everything from the height of fences and the dimensions of garden sheds to disposal of rubbish and the colour of your home’s exterior. Many are common sense, such as noise restrictions, speed limits and parking limitations.
Limits on pet ownership are commonplace; some sites allow one dog, others two. Some allow one dog or one cat. Some don’t allow any pets.
Some rules might affect your decision as to which park to choose. For example, the vast majority of park home estates have rules on the age of residents – some parks won’t let you move in if you are under 50 years old, while others have a minimum age of 55, others 45.
#9 Selling your park home
If you decide to sell, you can put your park home on the open market. You do not have to get permission from the park operator. Park owners are entitled in law to receive a commission on the sale of a park home of up to 10% of the sale price.
#10 Benefits of living in a park home
A decision to go for park home living isn’t necessarily driven by financial considerations – there are many other advantages – but money can be a key driver. You can release capital by buying a park home for less money than the value of your house – and that can enable you to begin a whole new lifestyle. You sell your house – and, in doing so, release equity. Straightforward. Then you buy a park home, for less money than the value of your former residence. So, you have a potentially large amount of equity available for other things. New park homes can – depending on the area – be bought for £200,000 or quite a lot less than that. If you are selling a house in an area of high property prices, you could, potentially, end up with a lot of money available to squirrel away.
A big advantage of park home estates is security. Many are gated communities. And all have the advantage over other types of housing estates, that park residents tend to watch out for each other. So there’s a generally relaxed atmosphere. Community is one of the most important aspects of residential park living. Residents tend to be at the same stage in life – semi-retired or retired – and so potentially have a lot in common with one another. Semi-retired and retired people have more time to talk and make friends than during the working years, making it easy to get to know your neighbours.
Another plus-point of park home living is about gardens. Park home gardens are easy to maintain, perhaps with attractive gravel areas garnished with pots for foliage and flowers. Maybe artificial grass, too – so no more lawn mowing.
And then there’s the obvious – and big – advantage: all park homes are single-storey dwellings. So no stairs to climb – or clean. So, if you are thinking ahead to advancing years when you may begin to find stairs a challenge, a park home future-proofs you from that. New park homes are also highly insulated, making them easier to heat and keep warm and meaning heating costs are low.
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Park & Holiday Home Inspiration magazine is the best guide to finding, buying and living in your perfect park or holiday home. The magazine is ideal for both the budding buyers to be, or for those who have been living the life of luxury for years.
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