Wimpey sees orders jump

HOUSEBUILDER Taylor Wimpey said yesterday it entered the new year with a 28 per cent rise in orders for new homes and that it had seen a boost in prices.

But the trading update on performance in the 12 months to 31 December saw a drop in the number of homes completed in 2009 compared with the previous year.

The company said it had reduced its borrowings from the £1.5bn it owed at the end of 2008 to £750m.

The average home price for Taylor Wimpey – the second largest UK housebuilder by volume – rose by £6,000 in the second half of the year to £160,000. However, the annual figure was lower than 2008, when the average price across the UK was £171,000.

Prices for affordable homes remained at an average of £108,000 in 2009 – the same level as in 2008. The company finished 10,186 homes in 2009 compared with 13,394 the previous year.

Taylor Wimpey, which has operations in the UK, the US, Spain and Gibraltar, raised £500m in a rights issue in June.

The housebuilder said: “Our UK business has maintained its encouraging performance since our statement in November and we enter 2010 with a very strong order book.”
Worst is over – for now
AS the first of the major housebuilders to report, Taylor Wimpey set the tone for the rest of the industry yesterday. It was broadly positive and upbeat – but very cautious about 2010. It might have paid down debt to £750m against a target of £800m, and the reservation rate for new homes in the UK is slowly creeping back up, at 0.55 homes per outlet per week in 2009 against 0.4 in 2008. But although the never-ending writedowns have stopped for now, it isn’t writing any value back either, showing the recovery isn’t yet in the bag.