Builders' Merchants News

Barratt's Beechfields development, between Stockport and Chester.

Snow brings storm of online enquiries for housebuilders

Published:  18 January, 2010

LONDON: British housebuilder Barratt Developments said recent bad weather has led to a storm of online enquiries as it reported stronger first-half trading, adding to hopes that the worst is over for the sector.

Mark Clare, the company's chief executive officer said enquiries more than doubled in recent weeks as a countrywide cold snap forced many people to stay indoors or work from home.

"People haven't been able to get to the sites, but the good news is that people have been shopping online," he stated.

"I hope that once the snow clears, those people will visit our sites," he said, adding nearly all house purchases now originate from web enquiries, with 4000 leads on average a week from its websites.

The housebuilder, one of the three largest in the UK, said the move to houses from apartments in its portfolio mix led to selling prices rising 4% to an average of 167 000. This is set to rise by up to 10% by the end of its financial year.

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey said the buoyant trading during the autumn selling season has continued into 2010, in spite of the bad weather.

Rising buyer interest and low levels of supply pushed property asking prices up 4.1% in January, according to property website, Rightmove.

Taylor Wimpey, Britain's second largest housebuilder by market value, said its full-year results are expected to be in line as market conditions improved in 2009 from 2008, after the industry suffered one of the sharpest drops in activity in decades.