Industry figures show 9% fall in new home registrations
The number of new homes being registered fell by 9% in the first three months of 2016 compared with a year earlier, industry body figures show.
A total of 36,566 new homes were registered across the UK in the first quarter of 2016, down from 40,144 in the first quarter of 2015, according to the National House Building Council (NHBC), which said the industry was consolidating strong growth seen in previous years.
The NHBC is a warranty and insurance provider. The body's registration figures are taken from builders who are responsible for around 80% of homes constructed in the UK.
Builders are required to register a house with the NHBC before starting work, which means its figures represent homes that are to be built in the months ahead.
Most UK regions saw a decrease in home registrations in the first quarter of 2016 compared with a year earlier, with the exception of Wales, where registrations were flat, and the North West and Merseyside, where they jumped by 17%.
London saw a 15% fall in registrations, although those behind the report said building activity was still bustling in the capital, particularly in the outer London suburbs.
The NHBC cautioned against placing too much significance in the recent drop-off in the quarterly figures compared with a year earlier.
It said March 2015 had been an exceptionally high month for registrations.
This year's early Easter, when many people were away on holiday, would also have affected the figures for the first quarter of 2016, it said.
Asked if the looming EU referendum was having an impact on the industry, those behind the report said this did not seem to have caused any significant uncertainty.
The NHBC's figures also show that more detached and semi-detached houses were registered in the financial year 2015/16 than in any other year since 2002/03.
A total of 77,326 detached and semi-detached houses were registered in 2015/16, with these property types being particularly attractive to families.
While the latest quarterly home registrations figure is down compared with a year earlier, the number of home registrations across the financial year 2015/16 has remained in line with those in 2014/15, the NHBC said.
Some 152,329 new homes were registered in 2015/16, slightly up on the 152,262 registered in 2014/15.
And new home registrations were still up by 80% when compared with 2008/09, when just under 85,000 new homes were registered across that year.
There had also been a 10% increase in the number of new homes being completed by builders in 2015/16, compared with 2014/15, with 137,396 completions in total.
NHBC chief executive Mike Quinton said: "Our latest statistics show that the industry is consolidating on the strong growth in registrations seen in recent years.
"Registrations are now around 80% higher than the depths of the financial crisis in 2008/09, driven by increased activity from private sector house builders.
"Because of the increase in registrations we are now also seeing the resulting completions come through, as reflected in the 10% rise in the number of new homes completed in the financial year."
The figures were released as a separate report from the Home Builders Federation (HBF) and construction data provider Glenigan found initial planning permission for 255,032 new homes was granted in England in 2015 - a figure which is up by 57% from a low point in 2009.
A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said: "We've got this country building again with new homes up 25% and more than a quarter of a million planning permissions granted last year.
"Today's figures are further proof of that, showing registrations are up 80% when compared with the low point of 2008."
Here are the number of new homes being registered across UK regions in the first quarter of 2016 and the percentage change compared with the first quarter of 2015, according to the NHBC:
:: Scotland, 2,910, minus 9%
:: North East, 1,131, minus 4%
:: Yorkshire and Humberside, 1,889, minus 15%
:: East Midlands, 3,114, minus 13%
:: Eastern, 3,582, minus 17%
:: London, 4,751, minus 15%
:: South East, 6,117, minus 8%
:: South West, 4,057, minus 8%
:: West Midlands, 3,490, minus 9%
:: Wales, 1,142, 0%
:: Northern Ireland and Isle of Man, 651, minus 16%
:: North West and Merseyside, 3,732, 17%