Number of new homes registrations 'at strongest level since 2007'
The number of new homes being registered is at its strongest levels since 2007, an industry body has reported.
Some 41,268 new homes were registered across the UK over the last three months, marking the highest quarterly figure seen since winter 2007, the National House Building Council (NHBC) said.
The latest quarterly figure also marks a 12% uplift compared with the same period in 2014, according to the NHBC, a warranty and insurance provider.
The NHBC'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.
Northern regions are helping to power growth in the new housing sector, with the North West of England and Merseyside seeing a "massive" 74% increase in new home registrations in the latest quarter compared with a year ago, the NHBC said.
Meanwhile, the number of new homes being registered in London has fallen back, with 16% fewer homes registered in the first six months of 2015 than the same period in 2014.
But NHBC chief executive Mike Quinton said the figures for London follow a period of particularly strong growth in 2013.
In Scotland, registrations were up by 26% in the first half of 2015 compared with the first six months of 2014, while Wales saw a 37% increase and Northern Ireland saw a 53% uplift.
The figures also suggest a pick-up in housebuilding going forward.
Mr Quinton said that over the last few decades, new registrations have averaged around 150,000 to 155,000 a year. But this year so far, more than 81,000 new registrations have already been recorded. If new registrations continue at this level, this would put the annual total for 2015 at more than 160,000.
Mr Quinton also pointed out that as the NHBC covers around 80% of the market, the actual number of new homes being planned across the whole of the UK could reach 200,000.
The figures also show that in early 2015, around 5% of new home buyers were aged under 25 years old, 31% were aged between 25 and 34, 23% were aged 35 to 44, 16% were aged between 45 and 54 and 23% were aged over 55 years old.
Mr Quinton said: "Our figures show that 2015 is shaping up to be an encouraging year for new housing growth with new housing registrations up 12% on the second quarter of last year.
"However, we have made clear that while all signs of growth are to be welcomed, the UK is still building way below the volumes of homes that we need. There is a long way to go before our housing crisis is over."
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: "Today's figures clearly show how our efforts have got the country building again."
He continued: "This is real progress but we know there is more to do. That's why £38 billion of public and private investment will be made available over the next five years to deliver 275,000 extra affordable homes - the fastest rate of delivery for 20 years."