Property returns to the fore as building giants report

New-build sector booming
New-build sector booming

The state of Britain’s property market will return to the fore this week when a clutch of housebuilding giants report.

Full-year figures on Wednesday from Barratt Developments - the UK’s biggest housebuilder - are among the highlights, with figures set to confirm another robust year for the sector.

The focus will be on expectations for the year ahead amid fears that Brexit uncertainty and pressure on household finances may start to hit buyer confidence.

A detailed trading update in July has already set the scene for strong numbers from Barratt, after it said profit is set to come in ahead of market expectations following sales of more expensive homes.

It upped its outlook for full-year pre-tax profit to rise from £682.3 million to around £765m, above the consensus range of £699m to £740m.

Barratt’s average selling price for its homes in the year to June 30 increased by 5.9% to £275,000 and total completions came in at 17,395, up marginally compared with 2016 and the highest level in nine years.

The results show new-build prices continue to rise as demand remains strong thanks to the Government’s Help to Buy policies and record low interest rates.

But experts are unsure how long this can last, while there are mounting signs the wider property market is cooling amid sluggish economic growth.

The latest figures from Nationwide showed house prices dropped by 0.1% in August, signalling that pressure on household finances from Brexit-fuelled inflation is hitting buyer confidence.

Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the new-build industry is in “Goldilocks territory”.

“Demand is high, supply is low, Government subsidies are widespread and low interest rates mean mortgages have rarely been as affordable as they are at present. It’s difficult to see how market conditions improve from here.”