The flagging fortunes of Britain’s property market will be in sharp focus next week as three of the biggest housebuilders report figures amid signs of a marked slowdown.
Taylor Wimpey, Barratt Developments and Bovis Homes will update on trading following recent gloomy reports from rivals and industry data pointing to slowing sales and prices.
Shares in the sector have been under pressure after builders Persimmon and Redrow sparked fears with their updates in recent days.
Persimmon suggested flat sales in its thinly detailed update, while Redrow said “ongoing political and economic uncertainty” caused sales to slip in recent weeks and estate agent Countrywide also warned over falling transactions.
It comes after a survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) showed house sale levels are flat or falling across large swathes of the UK.
The RICS report revealed homes are taking longer to sell, as well as a declining interest from buyers amid a shortage of new properties for sale, while asking prices for top-end homes are also coming under pressure.
There are also fears that this month’s interest rate rise from 0.25% to 0.5% – the first for a decade – could add to Brexit uncertainty to put off buyers.
Taylor is first up with its trading update on Monday, with analysts at Numis Securities expecting it to confirm more moderate growth after a 9.3% surge in sales volumes over the group’s first half.
It still expects an 8.4% rise in full-year profits from Taylor, although the City will be eyeing comments on current trading closely for more signs of woe in the market.
Bovis is next up on Tuesday as it continues to recover from costs of remedial work and compensation for the poor build quality of some of its homes.
It saw interim profits fall by nearly a third to £42.7 million after setting aside £10.5 million for affected customers after some homes were sold unfinished and had electrical and plumbing faults.
Completions fell 6% following a pledge to slow the rate at which it builds homes after the scandal and Numis believes “past problems will continue to weigh” on its second half.
It is pencilling in a 16% drop in Bovis’s second-half pre-tax profits.
Barratt’s update on Wednesday is likely to show strong trading outside of its higher-priced London schemes, although once more the spotlight will be on prospects going forward.
Builders have so far been buoyed by rock bottom interest rates and the Government’s Help to Buy initiative to support first-time buyers.
But with interest rates now rising off historic lows and Brexit-fuelled inflation taking its toll on consumers, investors are concerned its sweet spot may be coming to an end.