FURTHER signs of a return to health in the housing market emerged today as Bovis Homes reported improved sales and lifted its profit forecast.

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Bovis said it had seen a 15% jump in completions last year, with its strategy of building family homes in the affluent south helping to push its average selling price up 5% to £170,700.

The added that it now expected pre-tax profits for 2012 to beat City predictions of £51.3million, with the development of land acquired during the housing downturn having helped to improve operating margins to 13.5%, from 10% in 2011.

Bovis’s statement follows upbeat trading updates from rivals including Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey, with the sector having benefited from initiatives such as FirstBuy, which sees the Government and housebuilders stump up part of the deposit.

But a spokesman for Bovis, whose current developments include sites at Red Lodge, near Mildenhall, Stowmarket and Colchester, said that while the Government schemes were welcome, its performance was not attributable to them.

The group said it invested in about 3,500 plots of land across 24 sites in 2012, and sold three plots of land during 2012.

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