The first signs of a significantly stronger autumn selling season were revealed by Taylor Wimpey today after the group issued a strong trading update.
Updating the market on the period from 4 July this year, the company said it had seen an “ongoing incremental improvement since the half year results” on 3 August.
The company statement said: “Housing market conditions in the UK have remained robust despite the ongoing uncertainty in the wider economy.
“The more normal seasonal trading pattern over the autumn is encouraging and we have achieved an average private net reservation rate of 0.55 sales per outlet per week for the second half to date.”
The figure compares favourably to the 0.47 achieved in the same period last year, when the entire market was hit by consumer uncertainty brought on by the comprehensive spending review.
Cancellation rates remain low and sales prices have been stable since August, the statement said.
Taylor Wimpey is targeting a double-digit operating margin in the UK in 2012 and management remain confident of achieving this.
It expects further margin improvement in the UK beyond 2012, particularly through the development of its strategic land portfolio in combination with targeted short term land acquisitions.
The group is currently operating from 307 outlets, compared to 283 this time last year.
And it is now fully sold for targeted 2011 completions and is building its order book for completions in the first quarter of 2012.
The current order book for future completions is 6,265 homes in week 43, compared to 5,496 last year.
Taylor Wimpey has approved the purchase of 3,793 new plots on 36 new sites since the half year.
And it has achieved a number of significant planning consents in the period, including detailed planning consent for 285 homes at Keynsham, near Bath; outline planning permission for 650 homes at Coppenhall East, near Crewe; and resolution to grant outline planning permission for 233 plots at West Durrington, Worthing.
The company statement added: “We support the underlying principle in the proposed new planning system of ensuring that planning decisions involve the local communities that they affect. We have rolled out a number of initiatives on community engagement and continue to work towards aligning our business with the new requirements.