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Housing associations outperform other sectors

Key study findings include:

* The housing association sector, which is responsible for 2.4 million homes for social housing tenants, has maintained a stable performance amid significant fluctuations in the wider economy;
* Associations offer a more secure return to investors over a long time period than is available elsewhere;
* Associations responded quickly to the challenges of the economic downturn by taking prompt management action;
* Housing associations outperformed the wider economy and avoided substantial permanent reductions in asset values;
* The greater certainty of income in the housing association sector means that it has been able to operate at much finer margins compared to both the property and non-property sectors.

Clare Miller, Executive Director Risk and Assurance said: "Housing associations have managed to maintain a stable performance through the most testing economic times in living memory. In a year in which there has been much debate about the new regulatory arrangements for social housing, we’ve played a full part in helping associations get through these challenges. We have maintained confidence in the regulated sector and we have seen an increase in lending to housing associations in a difficult market. Ensuring the continued financial stability of the sector remains a key objective.

"However, there is absolutely no room for complacency. Associations are much more exposed to the vagaries of the property market than they were a few years ago. This market continues to face considerable uncertainty; commercial development and building properties for outright sale will continue to present extra risk.

"While we have seen some weakening of the sector balance sheet in terms of gradually increasing leverage and decreasing margins, the sector has avoided the worst of the crash in property values. There continues to be substantial potential for further expansion.”

Meanwhile, in other figures, the TSA has indicated that housing providers continue to be resilient and attract investment to build new homes. The latest quarterly survey (October 2009-January 2010) shows that:

* The number of unsold low cost homeownership properties has continued to fall, dropping a further 16%, which suggests that the property market is improving. More than one third of these unsold homes are reserved for sale;
* £455million of sales receipts were generated, and sales worth £1.3billion are forecast over the next 12 months;
* Associations have 92% of the forecast £5billion debt needed over the next 12 months already in place;
* Loans worth £58billion are in place, of which £45billion is drawn;
* The sector continues to be attractive to funders with new facilities of £2billion arranged in 2009-10 so far, including £815million raised in bonds.

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