FirstBuy scheme boosts Persimmon sales

THE UK’s second biggest housebuilder said yesterday that its sales recovery was continuing, with the help of stronger demand from first-time buyers.

Persimmon, which also owns the Charles Church and Westbury brands, now expects profits to jump by 50% this year, to the top end of City expectations of up to �148million, following the return of the traditional autumn selling season.

Completions were up 4% in the second half of the year to December 31, offsetting a weaker first-half performance.

Persimmon, whose current developments in the eastern region include sites in Bury St Edmunds, Colchester, Lowestoft, Hadleigh, Rendlesham, Beck Row, Diss and Harleston, said demand had been helped by “encouraging” take-up of the FirstBuy scheme, which sees the Government and housebuilders stump up part of the deposit.

The group said the market remained “challenging” but it had experienced “encouraging levels of visitors, resilient sales reservations, low cancellation rates and stable prices”.

The average selling price of �164,000 was 2% lower than the previous year, but this was as a result of the stronger sales of more starter homes for first time buyers.

Persimmon, which opened 25 sites in the last quarter of 2011 and expects to start work on a further 60 in the first six months of 2012, added that forward sales were 9% up on the previous year and it was hoping for an “active” spring season.