Barratt sees improvement in housing market

Leading UK housebuilder Barratt Developments said on Tuesday is was continuing to achieve improved reservation rates from housebuyers amid stable but subdued market conditions.

The company, which in September launched a £721m cash call to reduce debt from £1.3bn to £700m, said completion of its refinancing earlier this month would also allow it to “buy land as opportunities emerge and to open new sites”.

But Barratt, which along with other housebuilders has been forced to put many of its pipeline of projects on hold following a collapse in demand among consumers and its own financing problems, admitted in an update on Tuesday that trading remained at low levels.

“While trading conditions in the housing market have improved, activity levels will remain constrained until the availability of mortgage finance increases particularly at higher loan to value levels,” it said.

In a trading update covering the period from July 1 to November 8, Barratt said its order book had improved from £818m to £846.6m year on year and that, though the number of active sites was down from 449 to 362 compared with a year ago, it had opened 39 new sites during the first 19 weeks of its financial year.

“Whilst the land market remains subdued, we have continued to identify and approve the purchase of a number of sites, largely on deferred terms,” it added.

Shares in Barratt opened flat at 146p on Tuesday, valuing the company’s equity at £1.41bn.

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