Though you may be tempted by the beautiful homes and idyllic holiday parks, do not sign the contract!
Don't get me wrong. The homes themselves are so beautiful. Being able to go away whenever you like is truly seductive. The parks? They can be a bit rowdy at times, especially if they have lots of holiday lets, but on the whole they are really good. So what's the problem?
The problem is they rip you off and they rip you off big time. Moreover, there is an alternative that I will go into fully in a follow-up article.
Let's, first of all, look at the question of park sales price versus recommended retail price on new homes. The Willerby Brockenhurst might be a good middle-of-the-range starting point. I am sure you will agree it is a beautiful mobile home.
- Great Yarmouth Holiday Park Price: £46.744
- Recommended Ex Works Retail Price: £33,360
I am sure you will also agree that, that is a hefty mark-up! Even so, the retailer is entitled to his profits, and there will be delivery and connection costs involved. So let's look at those.
Willerby is based in Hull, and that's an awkward trek. We shall be generous and allow £3,000. Then of course the caravan has to be connected to the mains. Well to be fair 'plugged in' would be a more accurate description for the task but even so, we will again be generous and allow them £500. This will still leave them £9,884 profit, out of which they will pay a very nice commission to your new best friend—the park salesman.
'Fair enough!' I hear you say, and I would agree with you if this were their true profit. The key is in the wording 'Recommended Retail Price'. The parks are wholesalers. They pay nowhere near the recommended retail price, and you can probably add another £10,000 for their retail mark-up on the wholesale price bringing their profit much closer to £20,000!
Finance is an added bonus and you can rest assured they will encourage you to avail yourself of the opportunity to pay for your caravan on the never, never (an apt phrase which I have chosen carefully). More profit with which to line their very deep pockets. Of course they are going to be nice people and you are probably going to get the best pitch on the site, albeit temporarily and at slightly inflated site fees.
Additional Fees and Costs
OK, so let's assume that your business is going great guns, you can easily afford it and all things considered you just have to have that mobile home. And there it is, complete with a welcome bottle of cheap bubbly and a free coffee from the machine in the 'owners lounge'. You are now one of the special ones!
The entertainment team know you by name, your kids are always called up on stage for the games and you get access to the pool an hour before everyone else. That very special first year flies by and you are not in the least bit bored with visiting the same site every weekend.
Even better, the wife is as brown as a berry having spent the entire summer holidays there and the kids are swimming like fish. Life is good and you are so looking forward to the special owners New Year's Eve party.
Site fees have gone up a bit since last year and are now just over £4,000—only to be expected—and there is a £100 charge for the compulsory electrical check, a £100 charge for the gas check, £200 plus for insurance and £350 for the rates. So all in all you're looking at about £4,850 plus the misses wants to have the wrap-around decking which everyone else seems to have, another £4,500 as you can only use the site approved decking providers. Oh, and you are sick of storing the kids' bikes and stuff in the caravan, so you are going to need one of the storage box/sheds which also have to be purchased through the site and they are £600. Wow, we're looking at another £10,000 plus!
Not to worry, the park has a guaranteed letting option. We'll do that and re-coup some of the cost. Meanwhile, the site is closed for a month and you are having withdrawal symptoms.
The park re-opens in February but the facilities are closed until Easter. Never mind, you make the weekly trek because it is relaxing and also because it is a huge investment and you are determined to enjoy it! What's more, bookings are starting to come in. It's a shame because the popular weeks are the same weeks that you wanted to go. Never mind, Easter alone has produced an income of £2,100 less £400 commission for the park and the cost of gas and electricity. Scale that up and you could get £5,000 (less 20%) for the summer holidays and a further £1200 for the two half terms—almost there!
Only thing is you wanted to go for the school holidays—that's the main reason you bought it, and now the misses is talking about a holiday in the sun somewhere. Oh well, can't win. Just pay up and hope the tax man is kind this year.
So you make your usual weekend trip just before Easter, unload everything personal from the caravan (which takes an age) and clean it to within an inch of its life. You can't wait to go back there after Easter and whilst expecting it not to be exactly as you left it, here's a large wine stain on the sofa and someone else's kid has wet the bed!
You find yourself unable to convince the owners' team that the stains were not already present and now you are dreading the next let. What's more, it's taken half the first day to put all your things back. Suddenly, your second year of ownership is not as idyllic as the first, but it's still good and you're glad you took the plunge.
Year three arrives with the accompanying bills. At least you don't have to pay again for the decking. Only problem now, yours is no longer a new caravan and it is sitting in the section of park reserved for such. You have been informed that you will need to upgrade your mobile home or settle for a different pitch.
At least though, that will be a bit cheaper. Sadly not, the park has reluctantly had to increase fees and this year, even with the slightly inferior pitch, you are going to have to fork out a bit more. The caravan also needs a professional clean and if the stains won't come out of the carpets you will have to have them replaced. To make things even worse, business has been a bit slower this year and even though it's a couple of months past the 'pay monthly' deadline you are going to have to contact the park and put a payment plan in place.
Up goes the park 'sucker on the line' antennae. All installment arrangements have to be put in place by September. It's January now, and the park would like payment as per the terms of your contract. You remain calm, reason with them, offer to pay the installments update—all to no avail.
Breach of Contract
A few days later a letter arrives from the park. You are in breach of contract and if your site fees are not settled in full within the next 14 days your mobile home will be removed from its pitch and placed in storage.
Storage fees are £75 per day! Panic sets in and you call them again. Can I please sell my mobile home back to you. The friendly salesman on the end of the line apologises profusely. Sales are slow this year and no the site does not want your mobile home back. Best thing he can offer is that if you sign it back over to them for free at least you will stop incurring the £75 per day storage fees. You bristle with anger and resolve to sell it privately, as is your right.
The only problem here is, all prospective buyers have to be vetted by the park—in private! This is their opportunity to explain to them that buying directly from you will incur a £500 per year premium on top of their site fees and that your buyer would therefore be much better off with a special deal they have to offer on one of the park's own mobile homes.
I believe this practice to be illegal under legislation introduced in 2013.
The Sorry Endgame
Desperate, you call one of the many mobile home buying companies you've spotted on the web. You send pictures. You tell them that you paid just under £47,000 for the mobile home just two years ago. They patiently explain that the brand new retail price of your lovely mobile home was £33,000 and that wholesale prices are £10,000 cheaper than that. What's more you have let your mobile home out and it will therefore no longer be new or pristine. Best they can offer is £15,000 and if you are running up storage fees, these will have to be paid out of the £15,000 before the park will allow your caravan to leave site. You are now between a rock and a hard place and my advice would be to tell the site you are selling for £15,000 and try to negotiate a better price with them or at least get the storage fees dismissed. In any case, get it over and done with as quickly as possible.
As I said, never, ever, be tempted to buy a caravan on a mobile holiday home park!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Christine Baughen (author) from UK on September 09, 2020:
So sorry to hear this Reddevil - yes it has been going on for years. The government did try to put legislation in place but the parks just find new ways round it. I would speak to a solicitor regarding the site fees as this seems wrong to me too. You can usually get an initial appointment very cheaply or sometimes free of charge over the phone - a single solicitors letter may help but don't hold your breath - they are quite used to being sued!
Reddevil22 on September 08, 2020:
I have just sold my static caravan ,Well the owners of the site sold it, i had no choice to sell it private, as they said i would have to take it off site, got well and truly ripped off, payed £3,000 site fees in dec this year and moved off in march, so the should of give me 9 months back, didn’t get a penny bk ,they said if it would of sold before June i would have got some bk, it sold in July, but it was shut for 3 months Due to lockdown,only allowing the people who live on there on site, so how was it supposed to sell if it was shut, they wouldn’t even take the 3 months into consideration, how could it sell if park was shut, i also had to drop it £3,000 of the asking price just to get rid of it, they are absolute robbing theifng gets, how are they getting away with it, any comments and feed back would be much appreciated.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on August 06, 2017:
I've never been tempted into buying a mobile home. My mum had one once though, and had it for 2 or 3 years before she sold it.
eamon on July 29, 2017:
interested to read the next post, this is really helpful
Christine Baughen (author) from UK on June 06, 2017:
Hi Simpson Thank you for your comment which does show the other side. As my article shows, backed up by comments from others on this page, it is not the mobile home or mobile home lifestyle that is the problem. The problems come when you need to get out of it, for whatever reason, that is when the park owners rip you off. I have seen older mobiles that have been abandoned to the parks by their owners because they haven't been able to pay the fees, sold on by the parks for up to £18,000 and nothing goes back to the original owner. That is the problem and it is one that even the new government legislation has not been able to resolve.
Simpson on June 06, 2017:
A little pessimistic. I have had a caravan for 18 years and yes it is not cheap and site owners seem like a rip off. However myself and my family have thoughrily enjoyed our 18 years. The site has changed hands 3 times in our 18 years and some owners are worse than others. We have never been pressured to change our van nor have we been asked to move. The costs are no more rthan a decent 2 week holiday for 2 per year and you have use of the van for 11 months not just 2 weeks. You pays your money and takes your choice. If you fancy a caravan my advice would be to buy a cheap 2nd hand one initially so if you don't like it you don't lose too much money. Don't buy brand new unless you plan to stay for at least 10 years, buy back values are a complete rip off, worse than cars. At 2017 costs yearly fees including everything are around £5000 on a decent site.
Emma Talic on May 09, 2017:
Couldn't agree more.
Christine Baughen (author) from UK on May 05, 2017:
Am so sorry to hear that Jess. All we can do is try to stop other people from losing all their savings. If you have a Facebook page can you please copy the page address of the article and share it to your own Facebook page.
jessij40 on May 04, 2017:
omg reading this is like re living a nightmare every word in this article is true do not buy a static
Darren Bull on May 04, 2017:
Although I agreed with the issues offered for buy backs not being great there are hundreds of thousands of pounds of costs that the customer doesn't take into account when looking at the mark up theses sites put on. You can purchase a caravan direct from a dealer and put it on your own land, if you can get planning, water sewage, electricity ect.. I used to get this a lot selling lodges(you think you loose money buying statics, blimey !!)
Colin on May 03, 2017:
Very informative post. If it saves more people getting scammed, well done.
anonymous on December 06, 2014:
I spent 30 yrs in the industry and what you have posted on this website is only the tip of the iceberg. The average profit margin the parks make is 300% . The larger parks make up to 1000% . That is only the profit margin on the unit itself. There are a thousand other ways the parks make profits from their customers.
mangawhai on November 22, 2014:
All the static sites are a rip off. They all work in a similar manner due to the "Pykie" origins of the business. For those who don't know what a Pykie is I will explain. They are what were traveling gypsies who now stay in one place, however they never conform to the standards of those around them. They are the people that always have half a lorry load of tarmac to do your drive etc. Everything they turn their hand to is always a scam, and an undercurrent of violence is never far away. The police always set off in the opposite direction when any of our local Pykies start a fight in one of the local pubs, and HMRC never investigate those large cash transactions which are the way Pykies do "business".
Static caravan sites, in the main, no matter how big or small, operate the same scams as those shown in previous posts.
I bought one from a very nice old boy who sadly died, the daughter inherited, and her husband, (Pykies only marry within their circle), runs the park. He looks you in the eye and tells barefaced lies.
Consequently I am going similar traumas as other posters with Oaklands, (formerly Brooks Green Park) Brooks Green, near Horsham West Sussex.
Everybody would be well advised to keep well away from these shysters, because, big or small they are all the same.
sue. webester on October 06, 2014:
We.brought caravan 5 months ago we want.2 sell it blue dolphin. Offer. Of. 6000 will not even. Cover the fiance. They are rip offs the after. Sales. Is rubbish. Think twice. Amy one we will now have bad. Credit. Record and we have lost 8500 savings please. Think twice
firstname.lastname@example.org on September 01, 2014:
Was thinking of buying a static caravan, I've changed my mind after reading sime of these reviews.
Terry on August 09, 2014:
It has become Clear to me over the years that all park owners will rip you off to a certain degree, its only a matter of some are worse than the others,I tried to buy a caravan on a haven site in north Yorks from a family as a private sale thru the park, the park owners made things as difficult as they could being very unfriendly and unhelpful, buy from the park and see the smiles otherwise except a 'frosty' reception.
This is modern day highway robbery made legal
S.sk on July 09, 2014:
Oh my word, We was just thinking of buying one of these maybe we wont.
Helen on April 12, 2014:
We sadly had massive problems with Combehaven , paying £35,000 for our caravan so our disabled child could have a holiday with an adapted caravan.
My husband was taken sick and left us struggling to pay site fees, we told them it was only until out insurance policy paid us but they wouldn't listen. They took the caravan away and we lost about £12,000 never buy a caravan from Combehaven they are crooks.
Anji on January 10, 2014:
I to have just wasted all my money I paid over 30,000 for two caravans in aug due to losing my job I now have to sell I have just found out the 14,000 I paid for one was only valued at 2000 trade when I bought it can park resorts do this selling it to me at such an over priced amount
Reviewer on October 04, 2013:
Or island meadows !
Kathy on September 25, 2013:
I too have been had like this! I paid £25,000 cash less than two years ago from Parkdean in Newqay Cornwall! they have not taken care of me or my Holiday Home since! I want to sell it back to them they are offering me £7,000 and if I don't agree by the end of this month! the will give me even less! they are such rip off merchants! NEVER!!! fall for this ,Never buy from a Holiday Park especially" Parkdean"!
ginjill on March 21, 2013:
so very true