A walk in the park: Affordable, well-equipped homes that are a safe bet for buyers – Daily Mail Article April 23 2010

They may not sound exciting, but residential part homes appear to be the increasingly relevant and desirable full-time answer to many people’s property needs.

These estates of wooden, chalet-style homes offer a secure, low-maintenance option for those who have had enough of bricks and mortar.

The developments are mostly aimed at the retired and semi-retired who want to cash in their houses and use the capital to help fund a more relaxed and hassle-free lifestyle. Some owners also keep a park home as a UK base and buy a house overseas.

For those who can’t quite get on the housing ladder, park homes can provide a useful stopgap, according to Jon Boston, of the British Holiday and Home Parks Association. ‘Values roughly match the traditional property market, although park homes have not gone down by as much,’ says Boston.

The expat market is a relatively new phenomenon, made up of those people who moved to the continent, but who have found the cost of living and strong euro too much to bear. ‘Many owners of homes outside the UK are selling up and choosing residential park homes as a lower cost option,’ says Boston. Those who do move to a park are in for a pleasant surprise, says Tom Hartley, owner of ten parks from Surrey to Derbyshire. His homes come with all mod cons, beautiful surroundings, and complete security. ‘The park homes manufactured today are well made, well insulated, and running costs are low because of the high spec,’ he says. ‘They have everything you find in a house but for half the price. And they are built to last.’ The best parks are treated like an upmarket, gated estate.

‘We were one of the first properly to modernise estates,’ says Hartley, ‘introducing things like electric gates and CCTV. It’s very private – residents only – and there’s a real community atmosphere. In our parks you can leave your door open. There is a friendliness about them.’

Hartley’s parks, like many others, are reserved for residents over the age of 50. His flagship estate, Cudworth Park near Reigate, Surrey, even has its own bowling green. Here, homes cost from £150,000 to £300,000, which reflects the desirable location – surrounded by woodland and only 22 miles from Central London. A new two-bedroom home at Amington Park, near Tamworth, will cost about £100,000.

Richard Sigsworth is general manager of Britannia Parks, based mostly in Essex and the South East – with 4,000 homes across 20 parks. ‘We are finding demand to be high. So far this year we have already taken more deposits than during the whole of last year. We plan to double in size,’ says Sigsworth.

One of his customers is Pauline Sturley, 65 and her husband Fred, 71, who bought a home at Kings Park in Canvey Island, Essex. ‘It’s so secure, it’s a lovely place to live,’ she says. ‘The actual home is low maintenance and the gardens are beautiful. ‘There is a fishing lake my husband loves, and a clubhouse, with social activities. Our two sons were amazed at the quality of the home, as was everyone else.’

Change of pace: Park homes are perfect for retired couples looking for a simpler way of life