The housing market is suffering from a lack of availability to mortgages, but the second home market is less susceptible. Many second home buyers are cash purchasers and it is relatively easy for others to extend the mortgage from their main home to raise finance for a second one, according to figures from

The top three counties all fall in the south west. Cornwall was the most searched for county in the UK in March, with nearly a quarter more searches per household than Dorset in second place.

Devon completed the top three, followed by Northumberland, with Somerset and Shropshire tying for joint fifth position.

Seaside towns in the south of England are popular with potential buyers, while Lincoln was the most searched for town. Oxford was in second place, with Eastbourne, Southampton and Exeter at its heels. Bournemouth and Brighton also made the top ten.

Despite the cooling of the wider housing market, the study reveals there is strong activity in some areas.

The second homes market might be buoying up particular sectors in the UK, but it can be a mixed blessing.

‘Although it can stimulate local economies, it also can push house prices out of reach of the locals. If the second homes market continues to outpace the overall market, there is a risk that housing wealth will become increasingly concentrated in the hands of the few,’ says Nicholas Leeming, director of

* Properties for sale in South West England