Glimmer of hope for new house building

Some 16,232 applications were received by NHBC during the first three months of 2009 – 2% up on the final quarter of 2008 (15,866).

Imtiaz Farookhi, NHBC Chief Executive, said: "As well as the £1billion package of measures announced in the Budget, the housing industry can also take some heart from our first quarter figures which reveal a small increase in house-building activity, following seven successive quarters of decline.

"However, our experience tells us this may be more indicative of seasonal trends rather than a recovery at this stage.

"Nonetheless it holds out the hope, backed up by anecdotal evidence from builders that the market has stabilised, albeit at perilously low levels. The next couple of quarters will be key in determining whether or not this stabilisation is sustainable and will in turn lead to a partial recovery in volumes, even in the depths of the worst recession since the war."

NHBC statistics also reveal that for the first time in March this year, the number of applications to start new homes in the public sector exceeded the number of private sector applications.

Some 3011 public sector applications were received by NHBC in March 2009, compared to 2943 private sector applications – the first time this has occurred since NHBC’s accessible records began in the early 1980s.

NHBC statistics for the first quarter of 2009 also show:

* Regions in the South and East of England attracted most new-build applications in the first three months of 2009, accounting for half (50%) of the overall UK volume.

* Of the 16,232 applications to start new homes in the combined private and public sectors during the three months to the end of March, 8613 were related to private sector activity (ie excluding housing associations) – 70% lower than the same three-month period a year ago (29,137).

* Public sector figures for the three months to the end of March totalled 7619 – 12% lower than the same period a year ago (8702).

* New-build completions in the combined private and public sectors totalled 25,777 in the three months to the end of March 2009 – 27% lower than the same period a year ago (35,205).

* The average number of daily sales of new homes in the UK from January to March 2009 was 325 – 33% lower than the same period a year ago (482).

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