Trading update shows improvement for the four months to end of November on last year mainly in south England

Housebuilder Bellway has said reservations for the four months to the end of November were 51% ahead of last year.

In a trading update this morning it said: “Although the comparative period of trading in 2008 was one of great weakness in the housing market, the board is pleased to announce that reservations averaged 91 per week.”

It said cancellation rates had fallen to a more normal level of about 13%.

It added: “While the market in and around London is more robust, the northern divisions are still experiencing testing conditions. The board anticipates that sales volumes for the first six months ending 31 January 2010 will be 10% ahead of the same period last year, and that an operating margin of 6% to 7% will be maintained.”

It spent £64m on land over the four-month period, mainly in the south of England and said its £36m cash position would enable more deal to follow.

The company said: “Despite gGovernment’s best efforts to stimulate the housing market through a variety of welcome initiatives, there remains a fundamental shortage of mortgage lending on acceptable terms to potential homebuyers. Until this isresolved and the threat of unemployment recedes, consumer confidence inmany parts of the country will remain, at best, fragile.”

Bellway said it has 79% of its current 2009/10 sales target already secured.