Number of empty homes on the rise
The number of empty homes in England has risen by nearly 12,000 over a year to stand at 662,105 in April, the Halifax has said.
The lender said the figure, representing a 1.8% increase, had a "significant impact" on the housing market and in particular opportunities for first-time buyers to get on the property ladder.
House prices are being pushed down in areas where there is a high proportion of empty homes, with houses in the 10 most affected districts being 15% (£23,493) below the regional average, it added.
Stephen Noakes, mortgage director at Halifax, said: "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."
The North West has by far the highest number of long-term empty homes (63,696), accounting for over a fifth (22%) of the total across England.