Increase in number of holiday homes

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St MawesThe number of second or "holiday" homes has grown in the past year despite the tough economic climate, a study has found.

Cornwall has the largest number of second homes in the UK, while South Hams in Devon has the highest proportion of such homes at almost one in 10, PrimeLocation.com said.

The total number of holiday or second homes across the UK has risen from 246,026 in 2010 to 246,494 last year.

Second homes in Cornwall are typically being purchased for around £247,000, while would-be buyers typically needed a cool £1 million plus for a second home in London's Westminster or Kensington & Chelsea.

Cornwall has more than 14,000 second homes, almost twice as many as Westminster, the next local authority on the list. Meanwhile, 9.7% of properties in South Hams, which includes Totnes and Salcombe, are second homes, the highest percentage in the UK.

South Hams has 60 miles of coastline, and being sheltered by the granite uplands of Dartmoor it enjoys "one of the mildest climates in the whole of mainland Britain" according to the district council's website.

Nigel Lewis, a property analyst at the website, suggested that low returns on savings could be encouraging people to try to pick up a bargain in the housing market, in the hope that the value of their second home will rise more strongly in the longer term.

He highlighted "the poor rate of return being offered by more traditional investments such as bank deposits, stocks and shares and even Isas, leading many to see a second home as a more promising place to invest their capital in the medium-to-long term".

While coastal locations such as Scarborough featured among the most popular locations for a second home, Birmingham, where a second home costs just under £150,000 on average, also came high on the list. Tower Hamlets also featured in the top 10, with those behind the study suggesting this area was popular with City workers looking for a convenient weekday base.

Information from council tax records was used to form the study. Buy-to-let properties, which have enjoyed renewed interest due to a boom in the rental sector, were not included. Other local authorities with high numbers of second homes include: North Norfolk, Camden and South Lakeland.

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