Belfast Telegraph

Crest Nicholson shrugs off property market slowdown worries

Housebuilder Crest Nicholson has shrugged off worries over a property market slowdown as it revealed a 12% hike in the price of its homes.

The Surrey-based group said average selling prices hit £418,000 in the six months to April 30 as it focused on higher value homes and locations.

It comes despite recent signs that the housing market may be easing, with Halifax last week reporting the first quarterly fall in prices for nearly four-and-a-half years.

Prices fell 0.2% between February and April, according to its latest index, with concerns that a Brexit squeeze on household finances and a slower pace of job creation is taking its toll.

But Crest appeared to brush aside fears, insisting the housing market "continues to be robust across the group's principal operating areas".

"The market is underpinned by strong demand with good mortgage access and support from the Help to Buy Scheme," it said.

Crest is set to see full-year revenues rise by around 10%.

Stephen Stone, chief executive of Crest, added the group remained "firmly on track to meet our ambitious 2019 targets of £1.4 billion sales".

But the higher average selling prices meant Crest saw lower sales rate per site, at 0.8 against 0.9 a year earlier.

Completions also slipped in the first half to 1,064 from 1,206 a year ago, although this was largely down to the timing of construction of homes for private rent being built.

On an underlying basis, completions were "broadly" in line, while forward sales for 2017 are 5% ahead of last year, helped by an 11% rise in the number of sites over the half year.

Crest also confirmed it would open a new division in the Midlands by the end of October.

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