Bovis’ forward order book in best position for years

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Bovis Homes has reported its best forward order book “for many years” as its strong trading performance continued in the third quarter.

Net private reservations for the 44 weeks to November 1 were 2,390 – 45 per cent ahead of the 1,650 achieved in the same period in 2012.

The buoyant trading conditions place the housebuilder firmly on track to achieve strong profit growth in 2013.

The firm, one of the smallest UK-listed construction companies in terms of market capitalisation, said it hit its target number of private reservations for 2013 at the end of September, significantly earlier than in prior years.

It also significantly improved its forward sales position for 2014.

Bovis chief executive David Ritchie said: “Our forward order book is in its best position for many years.

“The group is confident of its future prospects and ability to deliver significantly improved returns.”

Bovis has a number of developments in Yorkshire including Broad Oaks in Hemsworth, a development of one, three, four and five-bedroom homes close to Moorthorpe railway station, which has direct lines to Sheffield, York and Leeds.

Its Holmes Meadow development at Selby offers two, three, four and five-bedroom homes, close to shops, libraries, parks and schools. Holmes Meadow is 15 miles from York and not far from Leeds, Doncaster and Barnsley.

Bovis’s Woolley Grange site has views across the Dearne Valley, and offers a range of two and six-bedroom homes.

Bovis is predicting operating margin for 2013 to approach 15 per cent, higher than the 13.4 per cent last year. Bovis is one of a number of builders benefiting from Government schemes to boost the housing market and it said improved access to higher loan to value mortgages and government support from the Help to Buy scheme have contributed to an already more confident housing market.

Earlier in the week, York-based Persimmon, the largest UK housebuilder, said it is yet to see any benefits from the second phase of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme as astronomical interest rates are putting buyers off.

The firm said charges of five per cent are double that of the Government’s initial Help to Buy scheme.

The group, best known for its Charles Church and Westbury Partnerships brands, said demand for Help to Buy 2 has been muted since the launch a month ago.

Persimmon’s chief executive Jeff Fairburn said: “There is only one lender, NatWest, that is offering Help to Buy 2 at the moment. Others will come forward in the new year.

“Five per cent is the only rate and it’s double the 2.5 per cent of Help to Buy 1, which is the best scheme for new houses.”