Persimmon has fared best among the volume housebuilders over the six months since the credit crunch began, according to a straw poll of six City analysts by Building.

The £3bn-turnover group was praised for its well established management structure, high quality landbank and its forward sales figures.

One analyst said: “You’ve got a strong internal culture and a management team that has seen it and done it all before.”

Bellway and Bovis Homes were also commended, with one analyst pointing to the relatively low level of debt on their books compared with their rivals.

Barratt and Taylor Wimpey came in for most criticism. One analyst said: “They’re effectively run by non-housebuilders with no experience of a housing cycle. We are in the dark about their ability to cope”.

One City source said the landscape had changed for all housebuilders. “They will have to operate in a completely different way to the past 10 years. You can be successful running a business offensively but they will have to become defensive and strive for every pound of profit margin.”

Another said the economic backdrop was likely to get worse. “Mortgage approvals are down by up to 40%, yet housebuilders are reporting falls of 20% in sales. These figures will have to get closer together.”