Home sales pick up as buyers’ confidence grows

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SCOTTISH housebuilders are finally starting to pick up the pace as rising consumer confidence and government help schemes take effect.

Mactaggart & Mickel chief executive Ed Monaghan said the group will build 20 per cent more homes this year. He said the pick-up is small so far, but he expects a £120 million help-to-buy scheme due to be launched by the Scottish Government in the autumn will give the market a further boost.

He said: “We are undoubtedly seeing a subtle shift in consumer confidence: while sales were steady throughout the last financial year, there has been a detectable upturn in the first half of 2013.

“One of our Ayrshire sites, Greenan Views, recently sold five units in a week, which is a pace of sale we haven’t seen in that location since the downturn.”

But he warned that the recovery is fragile and mortgage availability is still a major drag on the housing market.

Builders south of the Border are already enjoying the benefits of a £5.4 billion package of state loans and guarantees. Listed companies Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey are both expected to report a robust pick-up in sales this week.

Philip Hogg, chief executive of industry body Homes for Scotland, said builders seemed to have turned a corner, but from a very low base. Last year fewer homes were built in Scotland than in any year since 1947.

“Things are looking a little better, but it would be hard for them to be worse,” Hogg said.