Barratt claims market is best for five years

Kasmira Jefford
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BARRATT Developments said yesterday that the country’s housing market was “the most positive” it has seen in five years thanks to government initiatives to help homebuyers.

Chief executive Mark Clare said: “We have seen very good levels of demand from customers, improvement in the mortgage market, we are benefitting from investment in new land and we have obviously seen the effect of Help to Buy.”

The UK’s second largest housebuilder by market value said private reservations per active site have risen by 18 per cent compared to the previous year since the government announced its Help to Buy scheme in March.

“We have seen a rapid build up in the scheme’s use with around 400 reservations to date,” Clare said.

This contributed to an overall 9.7 per cent rise in private reservations in the 18 weeks to 5 May.

Private forward sales, excluding joint ventures, were up 28.5 per cent to £1bn and the group said it expects to make “a significant improvement” in full-year operating profits.

The group also expects to have reduced net debt to £100m at the end of June, down from £168m a year earlier. and said it remained on course to be debt-free by 2015.

Clare said Barratt expected to recruit around 600 graduates and apprentices over the next three years, to tackle the skills shortage that it warned could constrain the industry’s future growth prospects.