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First time buyers, are they impacted by second home ownership? -Savills

Over 1% of all inhabited dwellings in England are second homes and their numbers are growing - albeit more slowly than last year. There are over a quarter of a million second homes in England and this number grew by 3.3% between 2004 and 2005.

Our research reveals three main types of second home: the holiday home, weekend home and city pad. The first of these categories is as likely to be in Benidorm as Bournemouth although overseas properties are not included in the Savills figures. There has been a huge increase in the numbers of Brits buying holiday homes abroad, with the Survey of English Housing putting overseas second home ownership at 254,000 dwellings.

Some districts on the coast or in the countryside are close enough to London and other conurbations that second homes can be used as weekend cottages. Good examples that fall into this category are the Cotswolds, Suffolk coast and Peak District. Others have high concentrations of second homes but are more remote. Here, second homes are more likely to be used occasionally by the owners and loaned or let out informally for holidays the rest of the time.

Examples of these areas are more remote and include the Cornish coast and the Lake District. Finally, other high concentrations of second homes are not in rural areas at all but in the centres of large cities. Nearly a third of all dwellings in the City of London, for example, are not main residences and the London boroughs of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Tower Hamlets and Camden all feature in the top 40 second home locations. Other city centres in Birmingham and Manchester, for example, have a high incidence of 2nd home ownership.

It looks to us as if 2nd home ownership is an important component of the urban renaissance. City living may be highly dependent on access to (if not ownership of) country homes - especially for families - and it is often random as to which one of the town and country pair is declared to be the primary residence. The map shows the concentrations of second homes around the country. The region with the highest share of second homes is the South West and the lowest isin the East Midlands.

Within districts, there can be very high concentrations of second homes in particular towns and villages. Where these concentrations form over 20% of local stock, we suggest that prices will be affected to an extent that can impact local affordability and risk the "winter ghost town" phenomenon. Not all impacts of second homes are negative however. Weekenders' spending can help boost ailing rural economies. Even in districts where second home ownership contributes to severe local affordability problems, there is a fine balance between the necessary encouragement of visitors and the need to limit their numbers.

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