Kirsty McLuckie: Mobile homes are overtaking

As economists, investors and homeowners around the UK try to predict what will happen to house prices after a year of unprecedented rises, buyers of another type of home – those on wheels – have seen similar highs.

Motorhome and campervan ownership exploded in popularity during the pandemic, as the nation faced the necessity of the staycation.

Extra money saved during lockdowns, coupled with remortgaging to take advantage of hikes in equity, allowed people to invest in moveable property.

The rise in the number of motorhomes that trundle past my window–- the largest ill-advisedly as it is a steep and circuitous single-track road – is visible testament to how popular they have become.

Mobile homes are taking over. Image: Adobe Stock

I can see the attraction. There really is something very cheering about tootling about the countryside, following the best weather and parking up wherever the mood takes you with a new view each time.

Setting up camp for the night – awning out, dinner on and a drink from the vehicle’s fridge – is a marvellous way to see different places, even with a lack of luxury in the bathroom department.

A friend is certainly convinced of their merits. Having retired and sold her house, she has plans to build a smaller home in a year or two. Until then, she is renting and her profits from the house sale are doing little in her bank account.

So what better way to make use of the cash, to her mind, than to invest in a motorhome for holidays until the money is needed for the build?

She is very excited about it, and deep into exploring the relative merits of porta-potties, heating, pop-up beds, and shower cubicles.

But with a finite amount of cash for her build available, using her bricks and mortar savings for this seems risky – the usual mantra is that houses appreciate, vehicles don’t.

So, is investing in a campervan now – possibly at the end of the craze – a quick way to half a house deposit? Of course, no-one knows, but there are strong signals their popularity is here to stay for a while.

A worldwide shortage of components, such as semi-conductors, for new campervan models has seen the supply severely restricted, with most dealers now sold out for 2022 and some hesitant to take orders for next year.

Subsequently, secondhand values are still going up, with some two or three-year-old models now changing hands for in excess of what they had cost new.

Overseas holidays are still bedevilled with airport delays, flight cancellations, and queues at the Channel ports, so UK breaks are unlikely to fall out of favour just yet.

And motorhomes are a rentable commodity, with high daily prices paid and many more person-to-person platforms springing up, which means rentals could easily cover the owner’s running costs.

But holding value will require careful maintenance, and inbuilt technology can quickly become obsolete. So, as an investment, are motorhomes “as safe as houses”?

Possibly not, but then we have no guarantee that property in the current climate is either. And after the last couple of years, there is definitely a financial feeling in the air of “enjoy it while you can”.

Poop poop!

- Kirsty McLuckie is property editor at The Scotsman