Step One: Is a park home right for me?
There are currently around 70,000 park homes in the UK and over 2,000 different residential parks.
Parks may be small, independent, family-run sites, or they may be larger sites owned by a specialist park home operator who may run as many as 30-40 different parks.
Park homes offer a great lifestyle to retired people or those approaching retirement. The homes are single storey and low-maintenance, with significantly lower running costs than a traditional bricks and mortar property – including the lowest level of council tax – and outdoor space is large enough for those with a passion for gardening, but small enough to be manageable and easy to maintain for those who are less green-fingered. The biggest selling point for many park home residents, however, is the community spirit and quality of life on offer at most parks. Residents are often home during the day and are of similar age, often with similar interests, which offers the opportunity for great friendships to be forged with neighbours. Many parks also offer a range of activities and events that encourage regular socialising.
Because most of the homes are occupied during the day, incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour are incredibly low, making a park home a very safe and secure place to live.
Step Two: What’s my budget and how will I finance my new property?
If you have an existing property to sell, your budget will largely be dictated by the value of your current property. Because you’re buying the home, but not the land the home sits on, most high street mortgage lenders would be unable to offer you a mortgage to buy a park home, however finance is available through specialist finance companies. If you do require finance to purchase your new home, the park owner should be able to advise you on what’s available.
Because a significant deposit will be required when reserving your park home, it can be tricky to get the timing right with putting your existing property on the market. For this reason, property part exchange through companies like Quick Move Properties proves incredibly popular.
Gary Self, who owns a residential park in North Devon, explains: “Part exchange takes away the hassle of selling your existing property, and in my experience that tends to be the biggest worry for someone when they’re looking at moving to a park home. Using part exchange eliminates the risks and horror stories people hear about; things like sales falling through, buyers pulling out last minute, and renegotiations following a bad survey. When our customers use the part exchange service they know they’ve got a solid cash buyer, and they can stay in their existing property until their new home is ready to move into.
“They also know how much they can afford for their new home because they know exactly how much they’re going to get for their existing property and the date the money will be in their bank account – there’s none of the uncertainty and ‘guess work’ involved in selling a property on the open market via an estate agent.”
Step Three: Where in the country would I like to live and what sort of park home could my budget purchase there?
The first decision is where in the country you’d like to live? Once you’ve decided that, you can look at different parks in the area, which have plot availability, and what sort of home you can afford on those sites. As with any property, there are several factors that will affect the cost of a park home, including size, specification and location.
If that all sounds a little complicated, Quick Move Properties offer a service called ‘Assisted Move’ that can help you find both your ideal location and your perfect park home. Simply tell them the area you’re interested in and they’ll put together a package that meets your requirements and budget. Quick Move Properties can be contacted on: 01793 840917 or via their website: www.quickmoveproperties.co.uk.
Mr and Mrs Holder, who used Quick Move Properties’ Assisted Move service, said: “The Assisted Move service enabled us to buy our new park home without requiring any cash up-front. One of the challenges of buying a new park home is that they require a large deposit to reserve the pitch or order the park home (if you choose a bespoke one), but all of our money was tied up in our existing property.
“The team at Quick Move Properties were really helpful – they explained that they could help us to secure our park home and sell our existing property. The funds from our property sale were used to pay for the park home and clear our outstanding mortgage, which was exactly what we wanted, and the sale of our property was timed to coincide with when our park home was ready.
“I’d definitely recommend the service to others; Quick Move Properties just dealt with everything. It was so easy and hassle-free.”
Quick Move Properties’ Sales Director, Patrick Chambers, explains: “The aim of Assisted Move is to take the hassle and the up-front cost out of moving to a park home. Because we pay all of the up-front costs, there are no large deposits to pay to secure your new home, and our expert team are on hand to offer advice and guidance every step of the way.”
Once you think you’ve decided on a site, make sure you speak to other people and find out whether the park has a good reputation. Try to speak to current residents – are they happy living on the site? Do they have a good relationship with the park owners?
When it comes to selecting your park home, you can either purchase a home already positioned on-site and ready to move into – providing you’re in a position to move and have the funds available, this can be a very quick process – or you may prefer to have a bespoke home ordered and built to your personal specification, but this will take considerably more time (at least 10-12 weeks).
A new park home will typically cost anything between £70,000 and £400,000, depending on size, specification and location. Pre-owned homes are available from around £50,000 and can be refreshed and updated by a park home maintenance and refurbishment company if required.
Step Four: What upfront and ongoing costs will I need to pay?
Buying a park home is much like buying a traditional property in terms of up-front costs. There will be a deposit to pay to reserve your plot and the balance will be payable upon completion. You will also need to pay a solicitor to handle the purchase and, if buying a pre-owned park home, you should hire a specialist surveyor.
Unlike buying a bricks and mortar property, stamp duty is not payable when buying a park home. This is because stamp duty is a tax on the land being purchased, but when you buy a park home you are not actually buying the land that the home sits on.
There are several ongoing costs that will be payable. As with any home, you will be responsible for paying for gas and electricity, water and council tax. You will also need to pay a ‘pitch fee’ which covers park running costs such as the upkeep of communal areas, road maintenance and the continued provision of services and amenities. Fees may be payable weekly, monthly or annually (to be arranged with the park owner) and will vary from site to site, but you should budget anywhere between £60 and £200 per month.
The park owner can propose changes to your pitch fee once a year, but they must give you 28 days’ written notice.
The other cost to consider is insurance. A park home is very different to a bricks and mortar property in many ways, and therefore a standard bricks and mortar home insurance policy would not be suitable for a park home. Instead, an insurance policy will need to be purchased from a specialist park home insurer. There are a number of companies offering park home insurance so do your research to ensure you’re getting a policy that meets all of your needs.
What else do I need to know?
Does the site owner have the right licence? It’s important to check that the site you’re interested in living on has the right licence. The Site Licence should be displayed on-site so you should easily be able to check that the park owner has the correct residential site licence that allows 12 month of the year occupancy.
What are my responsibilities as a park home resident? As the owner of a park home, you have a responsibility to keep your home well-maintained – this includes keeping the outside of your home and your outside space clean and tidy (this includes any fences or outbuildings that you own or use on your pitch).
What are the park owners’ responsibilities? The park owner has a responsibility to keep common and communal areas in good condition, to make any necessary repairs to the ‘area’ where your home sits, and to maintain any services supplied to your home or pitch (utilities and services).
If I buy the home but not the land, how secure is my home? The answer to this is ‘very’. The Mobile Home Act 2013 made sure park home owners’ rights are heavily protected, as is the land their home sits on. Full details of your rights to the land your home sits on should be outlined in your agreement with the park owner.
What happens if I want to sell my park home? When it comes to re-selling a park home the process is fairly simple and straight forward.
The park owner will be entitled to up to 10% of the price the home achieved when you sell it – this is because a significant consideration in the value of the property is the level of service provided by the park owner.
When it comes to selling there are a few steps you’ll need to take, including:
Giving the new buyer details of the commission payable to the park owner and the annual pitch fees payable
Telling the park owner about the sale
Transferring the pitch agreement to the new owner
Asking the new buyer to fill in a Notice of Assignment Form so they can pay the commission to the park owner
With a shortage of retirement property available, high-quality, well-maintained park homes in desirable locations are in strong demand, so re-selling a park home, although perhaps an unfamiliar process, should not be a deterrent.