New research has revealed that the South East has more than £37bn worth of homes sitting vacant.
Estate agent comparison site GetAgent analysed government data and discovered that 653,025 homes are currently classified as vacant in England.
While this is a two percent reduction on the previous year, rising house prices mean that the average house price is now £297,524m bringing the total value of empty houses across the country to £194.3bn.
The South East has seen a two percent reduction in the amount of homes sitting empty - but the rise in house prices means that there are still billions of pounds worth of vacant houses.
Overall, the South East region has 96,219 empty houses - the second highest of any region in England, beaten only by the North West.
The vacant houses in the region also provide the second highest value of any in the country, with an estimated total of £37.04bn - nearly a fifth of England’s total £194.3bn.
The current average house price in the South East is £384,966.
According to the latest government statistics on homelessness, there are 10,820 households in the South East who are in temporary accommodation due to homelessness, having risen from 10,340 in the previous year - an increase of 480 households.
In 2019, homelessness charity Shelter estimated that there were 280,000 homeless people in the UK, a figure which has likely been exacerbated due to the rise in no-fault evictions during and since the pandemic.
Polly Neate, chief executive of homelessness charity Shelter, said: “Across the country the housing emergency is ruining lives.
“Every day we see more and more people being pushed out of their local areas because of soaring house prices and extortionate private rents.
“So, it is always deeply frustrating to see properties sitting empty when so many people are in desperate need of a safe and secure home. However, even if we filled every one of these empty properties, we still wouldn’t have solved the chronic housing shortage we face.
“More should be done to put empty homes to use, but tackling this issue is not an adequate alternative to building more genuinely affordable housing. The only way to solve the housing crisis and provide millions of people with the chance of a stable home is to build a new generation of green social housing."
Co-Founder and CEO of GetAgent.co.uk, Colby Short, commented: “Coincidental, perhaps, that such a sustained period of property price growth has also coincided with a fall in the number of empty homes found across England.
“In fact, London is the only region where this level of empty properties hasn’t fallen and it’s also the only region where property price growth has been largely stagnant over the last two years.
“But while it seems as though some have decided to cash in while the price is right, there remains a substantial number of properties lying dormant across the market. Homes that could go some way in satisfying the nation’s hunger for homeownership.”
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