Barratt lifted by mortgage market thaw

Kasmira Jefford
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BARRATT Developments chief executive Mark Clare said yesterday government schemes to boost mortgage access have energised the country’s sluggish housing market and helped the housebuilder report its best start to the year since 2007.

“There is definitely an improvement in mortgage availability, with more competition in the market so we are seeing rates fall” Clare said, adding that take-up from the government’s New Buy scheme has increased materially.

He estimated about 10 to 15 per cent of Barratt sales in the second half would come through the initiative, which allows lenders to provide 95 per cent mortgages on new-build properties, with guarantees from the government and developers.

Britain’s largest housebuilder by market value posted a slight decline in first-half revenue to £951.1m, but higher margins helped increase profits by 113.4 per cent to £46.1m for the six months to 31 December.

Clare said despite tough comparisons on last year when first-time buyers rushed to beat the stamp duty deadline, private sales rose 5.3 per cent and the average price for Barratt properties rose 2.4 per cent to £185,500.

The group also cut its debt to £331.7m from £542.2m.