Crest Nicholson is set to raise completions for the year by 15% despite a moderate slowing in sales in recent months.
In a trading statement ahead of its October financial year close, the firm said total forward sales remained strong at £348m, up 11% on last year.
Stephen Stone, chief executive said:"Strong purchaser demand for new homes continues to underpin a buoyant housing market.
“While there has been a slight moderation of sales rates in the last few months, rates of sale remain significantly above historic norms.
“Production capacity, clearance of planning conditions and skills availability remain the critical constraints on volume delivery,” warned Stone.
He added: “Land supply remains plentiful, with plots being drawn from both short-term and strategic land pipelines and providing good forward visibility for our business forecasts. Sales price inflation continues to offset pressures from cost increases in the supply chain.”
Crest said in the year to date, 17 new sites and 1,779 plots have been acquired, along with a further five sites and 885 plots which have been converted from the strategic land bank over the same period.
All land required to meet 2015 forecasts has been secured with planning in place and land for 2016 unit delivery is also wholly secured, mostly with planning.
Sites in Marlow, Cambridge and Cheltenham have been acquired as well as projects in Putney and Borough in London.
Stone added that the new Chiltern division, based in St. Alban's, Hertfordshire, would open for business in November.
All key divisional board appointments have now been made, with the majority of candidates identified internally, providing further opportunities for advancement to our employees.
Barratt has capped an outstanding financial year that saw it double profits to £391m by pledging to return cash to shareholders over the next three years.
Britain’s biggest house builder this morning said the surging housing market had helped it to overcome a mountain of debt and return Barratt for the first time in eight years to a net cash position of £73m.The house builder also said it would now pay out £950m to shareholders in dividends and special payments by 2017.
Completions were up 8.6% to their highest level for six years at 14,838 in the year ending June.
Private home average selling price over the year increased by nearly 13% to £241,600, driven by further changes in mix and some house price inflation.
This helped to lift revenues at the firm by around a fifth to £3.16bn, while operating margins jumped to 13% from 10% in the previous year.
The company’s sales rates were “significantly” up during the 12 months, rising from 0.58 net private reservations per active site per week in 2013 to 0.69. Barratt said present market conditions remained strong, after returning to more normal seasonal patterns after the launch of Help to Buy. Forward sales currently stand at £1.5bn, up 22% on last year. Despite warnings that land prices are rising steeply the firm continued to buy land at key hurdle rates approving 21,478 plots for purchase and extending the controlled land supply to 4.7 years.
Mark Clare, group chief executive, said: “This significant improvement in performance has been driven by the £3.8bn we have committed to land investment since mid-2009, together with the recovering market and improvements in design, quality and efficiency.
“Our disciplined approach will support a further significant increase in performance this year and we are now targeting a return on capital of at least 25% by FY17.
“Our special cash payment programme for the next three years combined with our ordinary dividend, is expected to return around £950m of cash to our shareholders.”
Work is set to start on nearly 13,000 homes stalled by the 2008 housing crash thanks to the Government’s Builders Finance Fund.
Just over 160 smaller housing developments across the country have been shortlisted for loans from the £525m fund, which will get workers back on sites and new homes built.
This funding will accelerate construction on the first wave of sites with potential to support nearly 13,000 new jobs.
Launched in April, the Builders Finance Fund was set up to help unlock ‘shovel ready’ sites between 15 and 250 homes, which have the support of local people but need help to get development going.
But industry house building groups have warned that the size of sites is not helping the small house builders it was designed to assist.
Analysis of the shortlisted schemes shows over half are for projects of more than 50 homes and a handful of firms, including some very large companies, are behind a third of the schemes shortlisted.
Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Ministers have said that more developers will be invited to bid for more funding under the scheme in the coming months.
“If this is the case, the Government should urgently review the 15 unit threshold which has so far been imposed, and which has effectively excluded a large proportion of the industry from benefiting from this policy.
“A five unit threshold would be much more helpful if the Government is serious about helping small and micro house builders deliver more new homes.”
More developers will be invited to put forward their bids over the coming months as part of a rolling programme to unlock homes.
The funding will come in the form of loans, which the developer will repay on completion and sale of the homes.
Funding release is now subject to due diligence at the sites listed.
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