Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Housing Market Recovering 'Beyond London' - Sky News

The UK's biggest housebuilder says it is seeing recovery in the market beyond London and southeast England, with demand back at pre-financial crisis levels.

Barratt Developments said it now expected to deliver an estimated 45,000 new properties over the next three years.

Buyer appetite for its homes was so strong, the company said, that for some sites it was making five to 10 sales on the day of a scheme's launch.

Chief executive Mark Clare said: "We are seeing some very, very strong interest on new sites that we're launching around the country, even to the point where we're starting to see queues ... which is not something we have seen for many, many years."

He said cities such as Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Bristol were seeing particularly high levels of interest.

"Where we're opening, people are waiting to get into those new show homes," he said.

At the same time Barratt - the largest builder of its type in the UK by volume - reported a rise of almost 5% in annual pre tax profit to £104.8m.

When exceptional items - related to refinancing and a major write-down - of £87.5m were excluded, profits for the year to the end of June rose 74% to £192.3m.

Mr Clare added: "These are significantly improved results and we have had a very strong start to the new financial year.

"We are seeing the housing market recovery starting to spread beyond London and the south east with a 29.4% increase in our average net private reservation rate across the group."

Barratt said forward sales were up 44.4% to £880.4m at September 8.

It also confirmed it was continuing to see good opportunities to buy land that met its minimum standards of 25% return on capital.

Industry and official surveys have highlighted a revival in the housing market in recent months - a recovery largely credited to improvements in the economy and Government initiatives to help struggling buyers - Help-To-Buy and the Funding for Lending Scheme.

Critics of the measures have raised fears they risk creating a house price bubble - something the governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney has said he will watch for and prevent should such evidence materialise.

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