Housebuilder bullish about prospects despite hesitant behaviour of housebuyers.

Bellway Homes has increased profit by 18.5% despite difficult market conditions in the second half of 2004.

The housebuilder increased profit before taxation from £77.4m to £91.7m for the six months ended 31 Decemeber 2004. Turnover increased 13.2% to £493.9m and dividend per share rose 40% to 13p.

The housebuilder said that interest rate increases had led to customers prolonging their buying decisions during the period. It said that customers were also being hesitant in the run up to the General Election.

In response Bellway increased sales outlets by 10% and became more selective about buying land. Though the land bank increased over the period - 21,200 plots with planning permmission on 31 January compared to 20,700 plots at 31 July 2004.

Bellway sold 2,930 homes over the period, with 77% on brownfield land, and increased average selling price from £156,900 to £167,000.

Bellway's said that future growth would be underpinned by its involvement in government pathfinder projects, which provide a high proportion of housing association and first time buyer sales.

It also said that new divisions such as Thames Gateway North would help Bellway achieve its goal of selling 10,000 homes per annum by 2010.

Chairman Howard Dawe said: “Our wide geographical spread and management structure allows us to adapt to local housing needs which should serve us well as the market returns to a more normal, sustainable level."