Housebuilders upbeat for 2012 as lending eases

LONDON Mon Nov 12, 2012 8:02am GMT

A Persimmon development is pictured in Hurstpierpoint, East Sussex ,southern England July 7, 2008. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

A Persimmon development is pictured in Hurstpierpoint, East Sussex ,southern England July 7, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

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LONDON (Reuters) - Housebuilders Taylor Wimpey, Redrow and Bovis Homes said trading remained steady as their focus on margins paid off in a market showing timid signs of recovery.

The companies said market conditions were challenging yet stable, with mortgage lending still constrained but showing signs of easing as a result of recent government schemes aiming to boost construction and help lift Britain's sluggish economy.

"The initiatives (...) introduced in recent times, particularly the revamp of the planning system and the NewBuy and FirstBuy schemes, have been of great assistance," Redrow said in a trading update on Monday. "Without a doubt industry numbers would be considerably lower without this intervention."

The housebuilders, like rivals Barratt Developments and Persimmon, are benefiting from a lack of available new homes in Britain and government measures to spur the market, which have shored up demand despite a tough economic backdrop.

They have also used the financial crisis as an opportunity to snap up cheaper land. Cashing out on these deals and focusing on building houses in areas where prices have stayed high, such as London and southeast England, has helped improve margins.

"Maximising the value achieved from each home completion remains our top priority and we are now fully sold for our targeted 2012 completions and are building our order book for 2013 completions," said Taylor Wimpey.

Bovis Homes said it remained on track to deliver "a strong increase in revenue in 2012" and expects its operating margin for 2012 to be around 13 percent, up from 10 percent in 2011.

It said the average sales price since the beginning of the year for projects expected to complete in 2012 had risen to 190,000 pounds, up from just over 180,000 pounds a year ago.

(Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)

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