UK housebuilder Persimmon said a greater number of potential home buyers are still visiting its sales sites despite the “increased uncertainty” created by Britain’s vote to leave Europe.
Interest from customers has remained “robust”, Persimmon said, with visitors to its sites per week up 20 per cent year-on-year since the June 23 vote.
The housebuilder did concede that there was a “modest” increase in the number of home purchase cancellations in the week following the referendum but insisted they have since returned to normal levels.
Since July, the group’s private sales rate has been 17 per cent ahead of the same period a year ago, Persimmon said, as it posted a 29 per cent increase in half-year pre-tax profit to £352.3m.
Shares in property companies were among the worst hit following Britain’s vote to leave the EU on June 23, amid fears house prices will fall, but the York-based group last month reassured investors that it remains committed to a 10 year strategy, introduced in 2012, that aims to return £2.76bn to shareholders by the end of 2021.
Persimmon, which concentrates on family homes, had already released key sales figures ahead of today’s half year results. Revenues during the six months to June 30 rose 12 per cent year-on-year to 1.49bn after it completed the sale of 7,238 homes during the period, a 6 per cent rise. Average selling prices rose 6 per cent to £205,500.
The group said last month that it is too soon to judge what, if any, effect the Brexit vote will have on the UK housing market but insisted the fundamentals “remain strong” as there is still a lot of pent-up demand for homes.
That is a message it has repeated in its half-year results today, as it said forward sales of homes are currently 2 per cent higher than the same point in 2015, at £1.75bn.
Jeff Fairburn, group chief executive, said:
While the result of the EU Referendum has created increased economic uncertainty, customer interest since then has been robust with visitor numbers to our sites around 20% ahead year on year. Our private sale reservation rate since 1 July is currently 17% ahead of the same period last year. The Group is now trading through the traditionally slower summer weeks but customer demand remains encouraging and we anticipate a good autumn sales season.
We are confident that our long term strategic focus will continue to deliver strong returns for our shareholders.
UK estate agent Countrywide said on Monday that it expects house prices to fall by a “modest” 1 per cent next year before recovering in 2018, as a result of the uncertainty created by Britain’s vote to leave Europe.
Despite a recent recovery, Persimmon’s shares remain below their pre-Brexit referendum level. They are still 15 per cent lower than the day of the vote.
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