Housebuilders could be affected if alterations to accounting rules go ahead

Housebuilders could be required to change accounting procedures and restate profits if alterations to their accounting rules go ahead.

The changes would affect Berkeley Homes, which has a turnover of £917m and a pre-tax profit of £165m, as well as half a dozen other housebuilders.

As it stands, housebuilders can choose the stage at which they register revenue on a sale. Most do so when it is legally completed and they have been paid. Under the proposed ruling, all firms would be required to do this.

This would affect some firms, including Berkeley, which books the revenue earlier.

Its revenue is booked when when contracts are exchanged and building work is completed.

If the accounting change came into force it would result in a lower than expected turnover for that year for affected housebuilders.

Telford Homes, which has a turnover of £79m and pre-tax profit of £9.9m, is the only other listed housebuilder that would be affected by the changes. Its figures are also based on exchange of contracts.

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is the organisation looking to make the changes.

The body is responsible for the regulation and enforcement of International Financial Reporting Standards, which will be the accounting standard for all companies listed in the FTSE 350.

Housebuilders would not be breaking the law if they register revenues before completion, but the IASB wants to have one procedure for all companies in the sector.

George Wimpey has announced that it has been hit by a slowdown in the American housing market In a pre-Christmas trading update the housebuilder announced that it had written down 2.5% of its assets and sold 20% of its land in America. It said it had suffered a cancellation rate of 50% fin the second half of the year.

The US market entered a steep decline in 2006. According to a recent study, 29% of those who bought in 2005 have no equity in their homes.