HOUSEBUILDER Persimmon will boost its number of construction sites this summer amid further signs of a gradual improvement in demand.
Persimmon said mortgage availability remained a key constraint in the housing sector but that various government house-buyer schemes were starting to have an impact on confidence and access to credit.
The stronger market helped boost full-year underlying profits at the York-based company, whose brands include Charles Church and Westbury, by 52% to £225.1m compared with last year. Revenues rose 12% to £1.72bn.
Chief executive Mike Farley said: “We expect trading to remain challenging but believe that the group is in a robust position to continue its progress.”
Persimmon completed 9,903 homes over 2012, up from 9,360 the year before, while the average selling price increased 6% on the year to £175,640.
It has already opened 45 of the 90 sites planned for the first half of 2013 and anticipates it will have 390 by the summer, an increase of 5%.
According to Farley, the NewBuy government initiative is starting to gain additional market share as more lenders join the scheme. NewBuy made up 4% of Persimmon’s private sales last year and represent 170 sales in forward orders.
The Government’s FirstBuy scheme, which was last year granted additional funding, has also helped the company secure credit to support around 3,000 first time buyers.
In addition, the company expects mortgage lending to increase generally as the Bank of England and Treasury’s £80bn Funding for Lending scheme brings down rates.