Housebuilder's update shows 33% fall in sales over the year but debt is reduced beyond its target

In a trading update for the year ending 31 July, Bellway Homes said that sales were ahead of management expectations.

In the year, the developer sold 4,380 homes, compared with 6,556 for the previous 12-month period – a fall of 33%.

The average selling price of Bellway's homes during the year was about £154,000, down 9% or more than £15,000 on 2008, when it was £169,729.

The firm added that its order book of reservations stood at £368m, 58% of anticipated sales for the year. Bellway has debts of £37m on a debt facility of £370m. It has reduced debt beyond its target, set last July, of £118m.

Sales were highly dependent on a North/South split, with the north London, Essex and Thames Gateway divisions doing well and the Yorkshire, North-west and Midlands divisions experiencing sustained weakness.

Discounting and shared equity were widely used but Bellway said that they had not increased. The part exchange stock had reduced to 9.4 million from 40.6 million at the beginning of August 2008.