UK's Barratt reports higher forward sales as housebuying recovers

FILE PHOTO: Barrett branding is seen on a building at a Barratt housing development near Haywards Heath, Britain, February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

(Reuters) - Britain's biggest housebuilder Barratt BDEV.L reported a near 17% jump in forward sales for the past three months on Wednesday and said it had delivered almost a quarter more homes than in the same period a year ago as Britain's housing market bounced back from the initial round of coronavirus lockdowns.

The company said total forward sales as of Oct. 11 rose 16.7% to 15,135 homes and at a value of 3.65 billion pounds, compared with 3 billion pounds it reported last year.

Britain’s housing market has seen a surge in activity in the recent months due to pent-up demand, people seeking bigger homes and a cut in property sales taxes, although uncertainty surrounding Brexit has begun weighing on the market.

Barratt said that based on the current market conditions, it continued to expect wholly-owned home completions to be between 14,500 and 15,000 units in 2021, assuming no further national lockdowns created disruption at its construction sites.

To contain a growing number of COVID-19 cases, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson set out new measures on Monday, outlining three new alert levels to better coordinate the government’s under-fire response.

The FTSE-100 company, which scrapped its special dividend payout in September, delivered a 24% rise in home completions to 4,032 units in the period from July 1 to Oct. 11.

Shares in Barratt, which have gained 13% so far this month, were down nearly 1% in early trade.

Reporting by Samantha Machado in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V