Buying a Park Home

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CHOOSING YOUR HOME

Whether new or previously occupied homes for sale are found within industry publications or on a site-owners website or at an estate agent, it is vital to check whether the home pictured is the one that is for sale and also whether it is already sited. It can be the case that site owners reproduce illustrations taken from manufacturers brochures and then in the small print (or not) state that the photograph is only an example of a park home and may not necessarily be the one on offer. You will frequently find attractive homes pictured that are set in manicured gardens and surroundings but which bear no relevance to the park where it is to be sited, the privacy or outlook that may be afforded or the upkeep and condition of  the park. Remember you are not just buying a home, you are buying into a life-style and an environment that is likely to become more important as you grow older.



NEW HOMES

Some advertisements will give a realistic illustration but ALWAYS ask if the home as advertised is the model, type and size as advertised and whether the price is the actual fully installed price of the home. Some park owners publish a price but only later tell you after you have been tempted and moved further forward, that tens of thousands will be added for siting fees, sometimes as much as fifty or sixty thousand pounds and that also the model you have chosen is not available. ALWAYS and even at the first stage, ask for a full specification IN WRITING together with an itemised and all inclusive price and the final date it will be available for you to move into.  This will prevent you from making a first step decision that may even involve marketing or agreeing a sale of your own home or paying a deposit for a home that is not what you hoped for and is eventually sited in unsuitable surroundings.  If a garage is advertised, always ask about the type of construction, obtain a specification and confirm what guarantees are to be given and whether this is also included in  both the purchase price and the ground rent ( pitch fee ) NEVER buy a NEW park home that does not come with a ten year written warranty that you fully understand and NEVER pay a deposit until you have all of this information IN WRITING -  and as in all purchases, ALWAYS adopt the foresight of `buyer beware.`


USED HOMES

Similar buying rules apply but always ask for the age of the home, Sometimes a home has been refurbished but remember that the most important part of a home is the chassis upon which its stands. This usually unseen structure may not have been similarly refurbished and you could be buying a home that was new decades ago, has been refurbished externally and internally either professionally or by an amateur who may have disregarded the chassis and for this reason always obtain a full home survey from someone who is independent of both the site owner, his agents and the seller before committing to buy. ALWAYS employ a solicitor and preferably one who is experienced in the buying and selling of park homes. Whilst this will add to the purchase costs, proper legal advice could save you heartache and many thousands of pounds at a later date.


NEW DEVELOPMENTS


Much of the above due diligence precautions also apply to new park developments. ALWAYS check with the local Authority that the site has the right planning consents and that the development or home is not licensed just for holiday use. There have been many who were misled by unscrupulous site owners to believe that purchasers could live on the park permanently, who later found themselves in serious dispute with both the site owners and the local council where full time occupancy was disallowed. Just because a development is new does not imply that full checks are not needed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          SITE VISITS


If you are viewing a home accompanied by the site owner or an employee including a park manager or an estate agent, always remember that their job is to sell the home and ALWAYS return to the site unannounced and on your own. Go out of your way to speak to as many residents as possible and have a good look around. If the site has a Residents Association, make sure you speak with members. Do not make a sole judgement against what is immediately seen but view all parts and areas of the park. Signs of a good approach to the site or home but immediately unseen lack of maintenance elsewhere may indicate superficiality in such maintenances or even that extra effort in tidying up has been made in advance of your visit. A conscientious site owner will keep all areas clean, tidy and maintained at all times. If the site is obviously ill-kept, this is a good indication that the site owner will have similar lack of consideration or care for his land tenants in other aspects of their management of the site and you should walk away. You may also check with the area Local Authority Licensing department to ask what information is held about the site or even the local police who may be aware of disputes between the site owners and the residents.




PARK RULES

All protected site are expected to have Park Rules which should also be lodged with the Local Council and the rules at some sites are more stringent than others. They will likely refer to the minimum ages of occupiers, often to the number and type of permitted pets, about allocated and visitor parking and may also contain restrictions that will not suit your intended occupancy. ALWAYS ask for a copy of the Park Rules at the beginning and NEVERcommit to buying a home until you have read and understood them.


BUY ONLY WITH OPEN EYES 

There are many thousands who have lived on retirement mobile home parks for very many years and who encounter no problems with their lifestyle or the site owners. Almost all parks have a strong sense of community and most provide a relaxed and happy environment but as in all housing sectors there are the rogue and sometimes criminal operators and whilst there is no guarantee that a well operated park will not in the future be sold on to a rogue, everyone considering a move to park home living should regard the checking out of the site owner/s as an important factor in your decision.




NEW OR PRE-OWNED - CHECK OUT THE SITE OWNER

Whatever the decision, the guidance is the same. ALWAYS check out the site owner. Just as there are rogue landlords in any other housing sector, there are those in the park home industry that are to be avoided and you can use your search engine as part of your enquiries.  Ask for the name or names of the site owner where a home is advertised and check them out. Be sceptical of website or forum endorsements and check for previous prosecutions or other negative reports. If the site owners are a company, there are many websites such as 
https://www.gov.uk/get-information-about-a-company,  Company Checkand endole.co.uk  amongst others, where you can search for information including the names of listed directors and other financial details. You can then double check by entering the site owners name names and businesses and adding them to your online searches. As with any supplier of any product or service, a trading name that implies good reputation and a glossy write-up does not always mean a business or a retirement park is operated in accordance with expectations and remember that what appears to be an established and reputable business may sometimes act as a front for rogue traders




The relevance of this can be deduced from the following quotation which followed the introductions of the 2013 Mobile Homes Act and also that a Government review of its effectiveness is planned for 2017.

( Eric Pickles. Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 12 May 2010 – 11 May 2015 )

“Park homes, which often cater for the older generation, offer many people an affordable opportunity to escape to the country. But some dishonest park home operators abuse their position, bullying and intimidating their residents and manipulating the law to make a profit at their expense. For many, a park home lifestyle is a peaceful retirement ideal, but it only takes a few dishonest site owners to blight the industry by preying on vulnerable residents and neglecting their duty of care.”



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