Investment in second homes in the UK is on the increase, although some areas are proving more popular than others, says new research

In spite of talk of property buyers veering away from the notion of owning a second home, the numbers of second homes actually rose by 2.6% to a record high of 245,000 last year.

According to a study from Savills’ research department, Scarborough was the biggest riser amongst second home hotspots, with second homes up by 7.5% over the past three years.

Meanwhile, Westminster saw the biggest falls, with the percentage of second homes down by a whopping 23.6%.

Lucian Cook of Savills Residential Research believes this could be due to the problems in the financial markets and the resulting home ownership in central London.

He also states that because there has not been an associated rise in property for sale, the reasons could be more prosaic: ‘Owners need a permanent address to secure a parking permit, which may well have triggered them to forego the benefits of second home registration to re-register their property for full council tax.’

Outside of London where holding a beloved Kensington & Chelsea parking permit is not the Holy Grail, significant falls in second homes in areas such as the South Hams and North Norfolk – down -5.9% and -3.4% respectively – have been reported.

‘Places in striking distance of the capital are faring okay, as second home owners can see their way to commuting from them, but the holiday havens of Devon and Cornwall that are further afield are more vulnerable.  The bonus-fuelled holiday hotspots of Salcombe and Rock are exposed, for instance,’adds Mr Cook.

Scarborough’s success? Mr Cook puts it down to people looking for better value. ‘he same applies to Hastings,’ he says, and Purbeck is doing well with a 6.87% increase. Some of these places get forgotten, he points out, but are being rediscovered in these cost-conscious times.

* More news on the property market and house prices