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Positive outlook for housebuilder

PUBLISHED: 13:33 17 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:39 03 July 2010

HOUSEBUILDER Persimmon yesterday said it expected to carry a “healthy” order book into next year, but warned the market remained vulnerable because of the impact of higher unemployment and problems with mortgage availability.

HOUSEBUILDER Persimmon yesterday said it expected to carry a “healthy” order book into next year, but warned the market remained vulnerable because of the impact of higher unemployment and problems with mortgage availability.

The business - which is behind the Charles Church brand - said the summer's encouraging sales trends were maintained during the autumn, with the average selling price of homes reserved since the start of July 6pc higher at £173,000.

Forward sales are also well ahead of last year, leading to the healthy order book, but Persimmon issued a note of caution in a trading update.

“While sales volumes have been consistent, we still have significant concerns regarding the availability of mortgages, particularly the higher loan to value products required by first time buyers,” the company said.

Persimmon said it was also concerned by the potential impact on its markets of any significant increase in unemployment over the coming months.

In the east of England, Persimmon said it was seeing clear signs of a return in confidence.

Andrew Fuller, managing director of Persimmon Homes Anglia, which is based in Oulton Broad, near Lowestoft, said: “We are delighted that we are seeing confidence returning to the housing market, with prices stabilising over the past year.

“Visitor levels have remained strong through the summer and maintained over the past few months, cancellation rates are down despite the restrictions on mortgage finance availability, and reservations up by more than 70pc on last year.

“We did set ourselves challenging but realistic budgets given the economic climate and in most cases we have achieved much better legal completions than we expected.”

Mr Fuller added: “We have assessed all of our current developments and as a result of replanning schemes we are returning to more traditional family homes as opposed to apartments.”

The regional division has a number of sites, including in Harleston, Long Stratton, Norwich and Lowestoft.

In August, the company nationally posted pre-tax profits of £9.8m for the six months to June 30, down from £36.9m in the same period last year.

The company said it expected to legally complete the sale of about 9,000 homes this year, compared with just over 10,000 in 2008.

With net debt down to £399m at the end of last month, from £960m a year earlier, Persimmon said it expected borrowings by the year end to be significantly lower than the £400m guidance in its half-year results.


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