HOUSE builder Taylor Wimpey is preparing for a bounce in Scottish sales this spring as more funding for Holyrood’s Help to Buy scheme becomes available.
Speaking after the group hailed a 6 per cent rise in completions last year, chief executive Pete Redfern said: “Scotland has been a little bit of an anomaly because Help for Buy has not been available on completions for a while.
“I think we will see a bit of a slowdown and then a bumper April and May as the next year’s funding becomes available.”
The Buckinghamshire-based firm said in a trading update that it built 12,454 homes last year, at an average selling price of £213,000 – 12 per cent higher than last year. Its order book also rose by 12 per cent, to £1.4 billion by the end of 2014.
The Mortgage Market Review and new rules by the Bank of England introduced last year imposed tighter affordability checks on borrowers and more restrictions on lenders in an attempt to cool the market and prevent a housing bubble.
Redfern said: “As we enter 2015, we are encouraged by the more balanced market conditions, with a lower rate of price growth, which should create a healthy and more sustainable housing market. This is good news for homebuyers and underpins our confidence in developing and growing our business.
Redfern said he thought that a pick-up in wage rises would help keep house prices ticking upwards in “low single-digit” percentages.
And he said Scotland could see a little more growth this year as it bounces back from the political uncertainty of 2014.
The housebuilder said its order book represented 6,601 homes, which it said was the “optimum size for the business at this point in the cycle”.
It also welcomed reforms to stamp duty, which it said “will help more homebuyers to get on to and move up the property ladder.”
The firm said it was upbeat as it looked ahead to the May general election and beyond.
It said: “Whilst the macro economic outlook is uncertain, with a reduced risk of UK interest rate increases in the near term and sensible mortgage regulation, we believe that the market and political risk for our sector is balanced as we enter 2015, and the outlook remains positive.”
The group, which teetered on the brink of collapse in 2009 due to massive debts, has been helped by a strengthening economy, record-low borrowing costs and Help to Buy.
However, Shore Capital analyst Robin Hardy said: “House prices have been flat for the last six months; mortgage approvals have been weakening for ten months and potentially now looking like bottoming out.”
But he said there was “selected value” among housebuilders and Taylor Wimpey remains one of Shore’s core investments.