Forward sales top £1bn as Barratt detects an improvement in housing market since turn of year.

Barratt Developments has announced an increase in pre-tax profit of 20% to £171.1m for the six months to 31 December 2004.

The housebuilder said that despite a more competitive market it managed to increase turnover by 5% to £1.148m and up average selling price by 2% to £165,000.

Barratt said it was too early to predict the market throughout 2005 but it reported an encouraging levels of sales since the turn of the year. It said it had increased forward sales to £1bn, and had already secured 90% of completions projected for the year.

UK completions were up 2% to 6.866 homes and Barratt announced that 82% of its homes were built on brownfield land, more than any other housebuilder.

Barratt said it welcomed the more sustainable and stable housing market and said that the fundamentals of the housing market remained sound.

Group chief executive David Pretty said: “While the market has been more demanding, we have successfully adapted to the new, more competitive environment and have increased our forward sales.”