Bellway said this week that trading in the first few weeks of 2011 has been “encouraging” after revealing it has sold 2,322 houses in the first six months of its financial year, which ended 31 January. This is a 3.8% increase on the 2,247 it sold in the same period last year.

In a trading update, it said its average selling price increased 8% compared with last year, ending January 2011 at £168,000. At the end of January 2010 its average selling price was £155,871.

These higher selling prices, which result from selling a larger proportion of houses than flats, will lead to higher margins on the properties sold and increase the firm’s profitability. Bellway’s operating margin is set to grow from 6.1% last year, to 7.1% in the first half of its 2011 financial year.

The news came as the latest data from the RICS showed house prices continuing to fall in January, albeit at a slower rate than before Christmas. Its monthly housing market survey found 31% more surveyors reported prices falling than rising, an improvement on the 47% in December.