What to Remember When Buying a Holiday Home

What to Remember When Buying a Holiday Home


Posted by Justin Allitt in Lodges, April 10, 2019

In this day and age it can be difficult making a choice like buying a house, a car and even a new mobile phone, there’s so much choice and information out there on the market it can be hard to narrow it down.

When you’re looking for the perfect holiday home you can be faced with a lot of information, and find yourself speaking to lots of different sales people, or relying on knowledge from family, friends or even strangers. As a result you can be somewhat in the dark about the whole thing and lack the real knowledge needed to make a good decision.

You might come to the conclusion that you can’t afford it or you’re not sure about the credit you might need. If this is what you’re currently thinking, then read on.

This guide will explain everything you need to know:

  • Which park will best suit you?
  • What’s the total cost of a holiday home?
  • What to look out for?
  • How to get the best value for your money?

The First Steps

One of the largest purchases you will make in your lifetime can be a holiday home, whether it is a static caravan or lodge so you want to make sure that you are making all the right decisions. You want to know where to look, where to buy, what to buy and who to buy from in order to ensure you have made the right decision because it can mean the difference between your dream holiday home experience and a disaster.

So before diving headlong into a rash decision you should take some time to read through this guide first. The good news is finding a nice caravan is actually really easy! First the trickiest part, location.

Location – where should I start my search?

Location is very important and should be one of the first things you look in to. Where do you want your holiday home to be? By the seaside, in the depths of the countryside, close to family? Do you want an escape from your local area? Click here to see our Map of holiday parks throughout the UK

Travel time

Depending on where you want your holiday home to be it, we suggest you aim for an area within a one to two hour car journey from your home. It means you don’t have an extended and tiring journey to make and you can easily return home should an emergency arise.

You don’t need a car to enjoy the holiday home lifestyle! There are plenty of great locations that can be accessed by train or bus – and if you plan in advance you can snag some really great travel deals!

Take out your map and pick out some areas that you might be interested in that are within your planned travel distance from your home.

Specific interests

What do you like to do when you’re on holiday? Do you have specific interests that might require a certain type of location? This could sway you when you’re making your decision on location.

There isn’t a lot of sailing in the Yorkshire Dales and you might struggle with mountaineering in Norfolk, this will help you shorten your list of locations and possibly highlight others.

Remember…

  • Travel time – How long do you want to spend on travel to your perfect location?
  • Specific interests – Is there somewhere you want to concentrate on or rule out based on your interests?
  • Choosing a park

If you have a location in mind then next step is to consider the kind of park you would like your holiday home to be on.

How do you enjoy spending your time?

Here you need to think about what you enjoy doing with your time and what each park offers you in respect to that. We have supported hundreds of people who are considering different parks and this is what we’ve found to be the most common considerations:

  • Peace and quiet
  • Activities and entertainment
  • Will you be bringing children or young people with you?
  • Do you have a dog that requires space to be walked?
  • Does the park offer full accessibility for people with disabilities?
  • Do you prefer to be in an adult orientated park?

The best way to get these questions answered would be to talk to check out websites for parks and you can call them directly.

Beacon Fell Holiday Park has lots for the children to do – Click here for more details

Telephone the park

Telephoning a park is a quick and easy way to get the answers you need and it’s also useful to see how the park deals with you as a potential customer so it can give you a good feel for the place. Alternatively, just contact Sell My Group who will contact them on your behalf.

If you are contacting the park directly, these are things to look out for:

  • Do they sound friendly?
  • Are they happy to answer your questions or…
  • Do they act like an MP and avoiding  your questions?
  • Are they willing to send you more information?

With smaller parks you may end up speaking to the owner, larger parks tend to have sales teams. While sales people are obviously there to ‘make the sale’ don’t worry and take your time. At the end of the day any decision will be your decision.

Wasting time

You are not wasting anyone’s time by taking your time. You are there to seek out information in order to make an informed decision so make sure you take enough time. No need to rush. Remember, it’s OK to say that a park is not right for you and your needs.

Remember…

  • Think about the lifestyle you want
  • Collect as much information as you need
  • Telephone parks directly or Contact Sell My Group who will do this for you
  • How much does it cost to be on a park?

Before you run off to take a look around a park in person you need to be aware of the running costs and understand that you need to look at the total annual costs not just compare each element.

Here’s a list of the different terms you will come across and what they mean:

  • Site fees – rental paid to the park for the pitch your static caravan or lodge is on and using their services
  • Local Council rates – your cost contribution to the park for the local council’s supply of services such as refuse collection, water rates, sewerage connection etc.
  • Insurance – for the caravan and/or its contents if either gets damaged (See our aticle on holiday home insurance here)
  • Gas & Electricity – just as you would use in a house and sometimes supplied through the park owner

The total of these items can cost from £1,000 to over £10,000 for the top of the line parks.

On average your overall annual costs can be somewhere between £3,000 and £6,000.

What are Site Fees?

The cost your site fees relate to the level of service and facilities on the park.

For £1,000 per year then it’s likely you will be getting a very basic service in return. For those at the high end you could get a comprehensive leisure club or lakeside mooring. It’s important to know that there are usually ways of offsetting these costs: (See our more information on site fees here)

Letting your caravan out

The majority of parks will allow you to let your caravan and some will even manage the rentals for you. So you can make a small secondary income by renting out your holiday home when you’re not using it. You can then use this money to offset some the yearly fees, or sometimes they even pay it off completely!

“Letting out my holiday home makes me uncomfortable…”

This is a common reservation. You might be thinking “it will not be looked after” or “it might get damaged”.

We talk with lots of holiday parks and in their experience accidental damage rare and wilful damage is extremely rare.

Damage occurring is an extremely unlikely outcome and it’s also massively outweighed by the potential benefit of renting out. Speak to a few parks about their experience as this could mean the difference between settling for a park you’re not 100% happy with and getting your dream park where your costs are offset by letting.

If a park has a subletting service then they usually have the right facilities in place to help you if a wine stain appears on a carpet! Remember, accidents do happen, and they are much easier to swallow if your running costs are paid for! (See our more information on static caravan rental here).

What’s your limit?

If you have a limit that you’re fixed on don’t be too put off if the park you’ve set your heart on is ever so slightly higher than that. In our experience it is much better to decide on a cost you can justify when you’re stood soaking in the atmosphere.

Remember…

  • What are the annual fees?
  • Renting out – is it allowed on the park you’re looking at and can it contribute to your costs?
  • Things to remember when visiting parks

Making appointments are the best way to ensure that there is someone who can dedicate time to showing you around the park, answer all your questions and show you some holiday homes. Making an appointment does not mean you are obliged to buy, no matter how much time you spend there.

Harvest information

You’re visiting the park to obtain as much relevant information you require and to see whether or not this park is for you.

Allow plenty of time to look around each park and extra time to look at the local area. Every park will be different – some will want to escort you around and other will be more than happy letting you loose on your own.

Local area

Make sure you investigate the local area whilst you’re there too. The park team have first-hand information that your personal exploration can only add to.

A great question to ask yourself is “Can I see myself spending time here”.

Aberconwy Resort & Spa, Conwy, Conwy – Click foe more details

Caravan ‘salespeople’

They are just like all other sales people, with varied approaches, varied sales pitches etc.

Knowledge doesn’t necessarily come from years of experience. There lots of young sales people out there with a vast amount of holiday park information. As long as the person showing you around is answering your questions, you’re in perfectly good hands.

Large holiday sites tend to have a set plan for introducing potential new customers to their parks and it’s usually very comprehensive and well worth going with it.

Make sure you get to know:

  • The park layout
  • The overall size
  • The facilities

Being an owner on a park can be different to just holidaying there, so even if you have been to the park before, see if you can talk to other owners. Find out about:

  • The site rules
  • How are the utilities managed?
  • Age limits for caravans staying on the site?
  • Who can help owners if something goes wrong?
  • Do you have a garden area?
  • What are the rules for pets?

Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you can!

Annual costs

Ask for a breakdown of the annual costs to keep a static caravan on their park.

Think about:

  • Are holiday lets allowed
  • When are you expected to pay your bills
  • Can you pay for the fees monthly

Some parks use incentives to tempt potential buyers, one of which is to roll in the first year’s fees with the purchase price. This is a great help when budgeting your first year’s costs.

Some of the things that may be included in your purchase price are:

  • Current year’s annual fees
  • New caravan set up fees
  • A gas bottle or two, or free connection to the supply

Sometimes insurance and local rates may be included, as well as things like bedding, kitchen essentials etc. By including these kinds of things your initial cash outlay is reduced. Don’t forget to ask if they can be included to close the deal.

Caravans and how to pay for them

Most parks will insist that you buy a caravan from them in order to be on their park. That’s normal practise and you will find that they are probably tied to one or two caravan manufacturers.

Money

The person you are dealing with will want to know your price limit so that they can try provide you with the best advice. Don’t let talking about money deter you, be straight forward whether you’re buying a top of the range with chandeliers or a cute chintz log cabin.

Payment

There are different ways you can pay for a caravan:

  • Cash or card – A great option when you have the money saved up that will allow you to pay for the holiday home in full. Note that the law insists that large cash transactions have to be reported upon so some parks may not take cash for sums over £14,000 and it can be much safer to use a debit card.
  • Third Party Finance – this can be either taking out a bank loan or borrowing from family etc. If you’re looking into this option then make sure you also look into specialist holiday home finance.
  • Specialist holiday home funding – Many parks will have partnered with a specialist lender for holiday homes. Interest rates will vary but they are usually comparable to high-street banks. If your park offers this then they will be able to talk you through your options in much more detail. Don’t worry about the idea of ‘finance’, especially if you are unsure about your credit rating or are in receipt of incapacity benefits relating to work. Finance companies will usually consider all circumstances when purchasing a holiday home and consider all sources of income.
  • Finance examples – most parks have examples of what specific monthly payments will get you on their site. Use them to hone down your choices.
  • Cash deposits – most funding companies will ask for a cash deposit, either by physical cash or a debit or credit card.

Which is the Holiday Home for you?

It doesn’t need to be pricey in order for you to fall in love with it!

You need to make sure you are choosing a static caravan or lodge with a balance of head and heart!

Both static caravans and lodges can come in many varied styles and layouts, and a variety of budgets and designs.

Ask yourself these questions in order to narrow your choice down:

  • How many beds do you need?
  • Are you planning on renting out your holiday home?
  • Are there any specifics you want or don’t want?
  • Do you want a separate dining area?
  • Is a utility or cloak room important?
  • Do you want a large deck area?

Test “drive” all potential caravans to make sure you take the opportunity to try the seating out, lay on the beds, check out the size of the storage areas, how easy is it to get in and out of the shower. Take your time, this is your chance to walk the walk.

What area of the park do you want to be in?

Look around the park and determine which area you would most like your caravan to be located at.

Is being close to the kids play area important, or dog park, or leisure centre, or in a quiet area. Whatever the reasons it’s going to be personal to you and you should figure out the best place for you and your needs within the limits of the park itself.

If you find that the park has a limited amount of pitches available and none are quite the right one for you just ask the park whether they would be willing to move you at a later date.

Got a worry about something?

Don’t ignore it, just ask. You’ll never get an answer if you don’t. Remember the park want to sell you a caravan. If there’s something that isn’t to your liking and it can’t be changed don’t waste any more time and move on to the next park.

You’ve found “the one”

If you have considered everything and they fit in with your idea of a perfect holiday home then you can begin making plans with the park.

A dedicated salesperson at the park will walk you through the key stages to take including the all important payment stage. Until the park has received an agreement from a finance company or the funds from you they will not start the next stages such as ordering the new caravan or arranging the transfer of a pre-loved one to you.

They will also work with you on the timing of various aspects such as siting dates and moving in dates etc. Note that new caravans are quite often built to order so it can take months before yours is ready to be sited on the park. Some park do order a few in advance in anticipation of future sales so it maybe be a matter of weeks or they may have one ready for you to walk into.

Be ready with photo ID such as a driving licence or passport, and two proofs of your address, such as a utility bill or bank statement. These are always required for financing and more often than not for the park records.

Make sure that the park provides you with everything you need, for example:

  • A copy of the purchase contract with the park
  • Site fees detailing all costs you’ll incur whilst on the park
  • Finance agreement
  • Site rules (sometimes called Terms & Conditions)
  • Deposit receipt
  • Site license from the local planning authority

What’s next?

Not much for you except planning for you first trip to your new holiday home whilst the park will be getting your new caravan ready. You can check up on your caravan’s progress by giving the park a quick ring.

Getting the keys!

Congratulations! You are now the owner of a holiday home!

The park will arrange an appointment with you to introduce you to your caravan and explain how things work; how to use the fitted equipment, the boiler, how to order extra gas bottles if required,  what happens if the electricity supply cuts out, etc.

Again, if in doubt just ask! You might notice that a window or a door is slightly out of line as the caravan settles and you’re walking around for the first time. Don’t worry, it is perfectly normal and the park will rectify this for you. Don’t be afraid to report any little jobs that need to be addressed after moving in.

That’s it. A guide to making the best choices for your new static caravan or lodge. Enjoy the memories!