Housebuilding giant Taylor Wimpey has said trading in Scotland has been “positive”, while Britain’s property market remains “solid” despite wider economic uncertainty.
In a full-year trading update, the group reported a 5 per cent rise in completions to 14,541 over 2017, while average prices on private sales lifted 3 per cent to £296,000.
Total home completions in Scotland increased by 1 per cent to 1,165 and the average selling price for the period to January 2018 was £213,000. The UK’s third-largest housebuilder said it saw “good demand and trading” last year.
Group finance director Ryan Mangold told The Scotsman: “We’re very pleased with the financial result for the year.”
He added that in Scotland, where the firm has 28 outlets, demand remains strong and the performance in 2017 was “not too dissimilar” to the rest of the UK. “The sales performance continues to trend positively both in our east Scotland as well as our west Scotland business.”
Mangold also said the business started the year “in a strong position from an order book perspective”. Its order book fell to £1.63 billion at 31 December, down from £1.68bn a year earlier. The order book at the start of this year is “exactly in line with where we want it to be from a delivery point of view and operationally”, he added.
The firm’s bullish remarks come despite worries over a housing market slowdown, with Halifax data showing the first monthly decline for six months in December amid falling wages and Brexit fears.
Taylor Wimpey chief executive Pete Redfern said: “Whilst we are aware of potential political and economic risks, we expect to demonstrate further progress in 2018 against our medium-term financial targets.”
Mangold cited consumer sentiment as the biggest risk, but welcomed recent data indicating improved productivity, noting that the market is pricing in a rise in interest rates to come in the first quarter of 2019. “We’re feeling pretty confident on our objectives for this year.”
Meanwhile, property specialist Rettie & Co is predicting a positive 2018 for the Scottish residential property sector, with house price growth of 2.5 per cent. John Boyle, director of research and strategy at the firm, said sentiment remains sluggish. “However, housing demand remains strong against supply, economic fundamentals remain positive, and this points to further modest growth over the next 12 months.”