Barratt sales hurt by lack of mortgages

 
Marion Dakers
HOUSEBUILDER Barratt Develop-ments said sales fell 4.4 per cent in the last six months of the year, a loss the company pinned partly on the lack of mortgage lending.

Chief executive Mark Clare said house sales during autumn were disappointing, as potential customers were also deterred by the government’s spending review and later by the icy weather.

“It is important we get ourselves going as fast as we can with those sales in the next selling season,” Clare said yesterday.

“Mortgage lending remains at unusually low levels and we view this restricted availability of mortgage finance as continuing to be the key constraint on market growth in the near term,” the company said.

However, Barratt said its operating profit had seen significant improvement, with operating margins increasing to five per cent compared to 2.4 per cent a year ago.

The company has shifted focus towards building houses rather than flats and increased its land bank in the south east, which has helped push the average selling price up six per cent to £176,000.

It also announced a tie-in with Hitachi Capital to offer mortgages for parents helping their children to raise deposits for their first homes.

Barratt hopes to open 110 new sites in the first half of 2011, but warned that volume growth will likely be limited, due in part to difficult conditions for buyers.