Lodge buyers put pleasure before profit

One of the lodges at Wayside holiday park, near Pickering
One of the lodges at Wayside holiday park, near Pickering
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BBC TV series Home from Home is about life on a holiday lodge park. Sharon Dale reports on buying a wood cabin.

It’s almost impossible to disassociate property from investment these days. A house is no longer just a home, it’s an asset that is expected to perform, which is why we are so obsessed with price rises.

Stuart Simpson can understand this point of view and yet he recently spent £60,000 on a holiday home that is almost certain to depreciate in value.

Instead of putting his money into bricks and mortar, he bought a timber lodge at Wayside Lakes holiday park in the North York Moors National Park and he has absolutely no regrets.

The two bedroom home, near Pickering, is in a tranquil spot overlooking the water and is surrounded by glorious countryside. The joy it brings can’t be quantified in pounds, shillings and pence.

“I know it isn’t going to go up in value. The longer I have it the less it will be worth but this purchase is about pleasure not money. I took early retirement two years ago and I wanted a holiday home,” says Stuart, who spends weekdays at his lodge and weekends back at his townhouse in York.

“The second I moved in I loved it. It’s so restful and peaceful and the views are beautiful. It’s close to the moors and market towns and it’s half an hour from the coast.”

He adds that it would’ve been impossible to find a bricks and mortar home in such a stunning location on the same budget.

“I took the view that I would use it a lot and really get my money’s worth.”

Many other buyers feel the same way. They don’t mind that most of the properties come with licence agreements of between 15 and 99 years and as their expiry dates draw closer, the value of the home reduces.

Mark Goodson, whose family have owned Wayside since 1975, decided to diversify into lodges recently and has planning permission for 38. They range in price from £55,000 to £110,000.

“The vast majority of owners are retired or semi-retired and they are cash buyers. You can’t get a mortgage for a lodge, though some companies offer finance,” says Mark, who adds: “They are not an investment property, they are a lifestyle choice and they bring a lot of enjoyment, though we are finding that some owners don’t use them as much as they thought they would. When we ask why it’s because they have been roped into childcare for their grandchildren. That is a definite trend.”

Wayside is open eight months of the year, from March until the end of October. The site fees are from £3,500 to £4,000 a year with gas and electric bills extra. The terms are clear that the lodge can be resold at any time within 15 years and after that it can stay on site as long as it is in good order.

There is also a clause stating that the property cannot be used by anyone else other than friends and family. Some lodge parks, including those owned by the big operators like Bourne Leisure, do allow sub-letting.

“We don’t because you just don’t know who is going to turn up. Our owners can end up having the neighbours from hell for a week and that’s not what we want,” says Mark. “We also don’t open year-round because that can lead to people living here full-time, which brings other issues.”

Anyone thinking of buying a timber lodge should check terms and conditions carefully and do their homework before they buy. Legal conveyancing is not necessary as there is no land title to transfer so there are no Land Registry fees and no stamp duty. That doesn’t stop you consulting a solicitor about the small print on your purchase agreement and licence.

While most operators are good, there are rogues, including those who raise site fees to ridiculously high levels and those who don’t take care of communal areas.

Stuart Simpson has no worries about his holiday home: “The lifespan of the average lodge is 25 years so that will see me out, by which time it will have brought me a lot of happiness. For me that is a good financial investment. After all, you can’t take it with you when you go can you?”

*www.waysidelakes.co.uk; British Holiday and Home Parks Association, www.bhhpa.co.uk. Home from Home is a pilot series on BBC2 about two couples who buy holiday lodges in the Lake District.