Caravan parks ride summer sales boom
Holiday parks are luring crowds of the real estate-hunting kind this summer as buyers snap up sites nationwide.
A leading broking firm has sold half a dozen parks in just a few weeks with more to be hotly contested.
Mums and dads are among those vying for properties, which superannuation firms and corporates view them as a safe financial bet as holidaymakers turn to travel within Australia in the face of the low dollar and uncertainty overseas.
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CRE Brokers director Craig Clark, himself a former holiday park operator, says there is huge interest.
“People are seeing them as a very safe investment as a business to buy – they are pretty well recession proof,’’ he says.
“When the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) hit in 2007 the caravan parks, especially along the coast in good locations, didn’t have a setback.
“Even when things are tight they still seem to do well.”
CRE just this week settled a $1.4 million contract on Yarraman Caravan Park northwest of Brisbane and will settle a $7.5 million deal on the Palms Oasis Caravan Park on NSW’s mid north coast in coming days.
Several other sales are being finalised in Victoria and Tasmania.
Clark says holiday parks have undergone huge changes in recent years as chains like BIG4 up the ante to meet holidaymakers’ expectations.
Many include minimum four-star accommodation and facilities like resort pools, jumping pillows and children’s indoor play centres.
“They are catering for a different market than they were 20 years ago,’’ Mr Clark says.
“Some of the caravan parks that we’re involved in – you just walk in there and it’s ‘Wow’.”
“There are just some really stunning properties out there. They are really resorts in a lot of cases.”
Properties on the market include an Atherton park in Far North Queensland listed for $2.25 million with traditional cabins, stone cottages and villas overlooking the state’s largest mountain while $3.3 million will buy a meticulously presented four-star lakeside site in the Darling Downs.
Another at Paynesville in Victoria’s Gippsland region featuring 183 sites on 3.8 acres with waterfront access has a $5.3 million asking price while $3.8 million will snare a park northwest of Newcastle touted as a potential manufactured home estate.
“There are a lot of mum and dads – families – getting into the smaller ones and sometimes bigger ones if they’ve got the ability to buy,’’ Clark says.
“But there are a handful of pretty strong corporate buyers out there. There is a lot of superannuation money that is coming in buying caravan parks, some holiday parks, some permanent relocatable homes.”
Having run a park, Clark says: “They are actually quite fun to operate – a lot of work, but you’re dealing with people who are normally pretty happy and easy to manage.”
“And they’re not really making any more – unlike resorts, which are popping up here and there.
“Caravan parks are very expensive things to develop. And a lot of them are owned by councils which are in great locations. They are just sitting right on beachfronts and riverfronts.
“You can probably name the amount of new caravan parks on one hand that have been developed in the last five years along the east coast.”
Most parks are being sold as going concerns, given their returns after many were carved off for development over recent years.
Tourism Brokers sales executive Warren Sweetman, who is handling the sale of a water ski park at Telegraph Point north of Port Macquarie, says holiday parks promise guaranteed returns.
The family-owned 50ha site at Telegraph Point, listed at $4.5 million, is set on manicured parkland and features two man-made lakes for water sports enthusiasts.
“There will be a lot of interest in it because it is different,’’ Sweetman says.
“It’s that dream I suppose of skiing for a living.”
Tourism Brokers is also handling the $5.2 million listing of campgrounds at Nowra with 2.5km of Shoalhaven River frontage, a Hunter Valley caravan park with a $3.8 million asking price and a $2.75 million eco-friendly park in North Queensland complete with salt water pool and outdoor movie area.
Sweetman says parks with long-term accommodation or which can be easily converted to such a set up are most sought after.
“They are a bit of hot property,’’ he says.
“It’s just like owning a rental property. It’ guaranteed and it’s bulletproof.”