By Marcus Leach

The total number of empty homes in England increased by 1.8% in 2011, the latest annual Halifax Empty Homes survey reports.

The number, which includes all private and public empty homes, including those vacant for less than six months, jumped from 650,127 in April 2010 to 662,105 at the same period this year.

The Halifax report does, however, report some positive change. While the total number of empty homes is on the rise, the number of long-term empty private homes in England has fallen to its lowest level since 2008.

Private long-term empty homes account for 44% of all empty housing, with the rest taken up by short-term empty private homes and all empty public homes, including council and social housing. There were 292,313 long-term empty private homes in England in April 2011, a decline of 3,206 (1.1%) from 295,519 in April 2010. Long-term empty homes now account for 1.6% of all private homes in England.

House prices are lower in areas with highest proportion of empty homes
House prices are generally lower in areas that have a high proportion of empty homes. Property prices in the ten English LADs with the highest proportion of empty homes are, on average, 15% (£23,493) below their regional average.

Pendle in the North West has the largest discount with houses trading at 29% (£38,831) below the average house price in the region. Dover has the next highest discount with prices 26% below the South East average.

Wellingborough is the only one of the ten LADs with the highest proportion of empty homes where the average house price is above the regional average (7%).

“This research further demonstrates the significant impacts that empty homes have on the housing market, and it is clear that action is necessary," Stephen Noakes, Mortgage Director at Halifax, remarked.

"Long-term empty homes account for about 1.6% of all private homes in England. And at a time when first-time buyers are still facing numerous obstacles to getting on the ladder, it is imperative we look further at the issue as an industry."

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