Belfast Telegraph

Taylor Wimpey encouraged by 'robust' housing market despite slight sales dip

Taylor Wimpey said the housing market had been "robust" since the Brexit vote despite seeing a rise in cancellations and a slight fall in sales.

The FTSE 100 housebuilder said trading was "resilient" as it sold 0.70 homes per site per week in the second half of the year to date, down from 0.74 over the period last year.

Cancellation rates also ticked up to 13% for the year to November 14, compared with 11% in 2015.

However, the High Wycombe-based firm said its total order book was ahead of last year at £2.3 billion, compared with £2.1 billion to the week ending November 1 2015.

Chief executive Pete Redfern said autumn trading had been strong, with "good levels" of customer confidence.

"While there remains some uncertainty following the UK's vote to leave the European Union, we are encouraged to see that the housing market has remained robust and trading has remained resilient.

"We have a strong order book position for 2016 and going into 2017, and we will maintain our focus on delivering our medium-term targets."

The firm said trading in the capital remained positive, but there were parts of central London - zones 1 and 2 - where prices had "softened slightly" at the upper end of the market.

It also warned that building costs were set to pick up by 3% to 4% this year, as the supply of skilled workers fails to keep pace with the demand for new homes.

It said net cash would come in at around £360 million for 2016, up from £223.3 million to the end of December last year.

Nicholas Hyett, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the EU referendum result had not dampened the appetite for home ownership in the UK.

"We don't think much has changed in the housing market since the referendum, yet.

"Brits still want to own homes, whether in or out of the EU, and the UK still faces a major housing shortage.

"That should support demand for housing in the long run. At the moment interest rates look set to stay lower for longer, supporting mortgage affordability.

"If that continues to be the case, the housebuilders should be able to deliver the hefty shareholder returns they have planned."

Investors punished housebuilders in the wake of the EU referendum result, with Taylor Wimpey dropping more than 29% on June 24.

The firm's share price still remains 22% below its pre-Brexit vote level.