Crest Nicholson was this week expected to appoint Morgan Stanley to act as adviser on a potential sale

The move, which sources said was supported by the 40 banks that own the company, follows confirmation last week that a listed vehicle backed by Pizza Express entrepreneur Hugh Osmond was in talks to buy the firm.

The vehicle, Horizon Acquisition, raised £420m on the stock market in February to spend on a potential takeover target. Press reports said Horizon valued Crest at £350m.

The move by Crest can be seen as a sign the housebuilder is keen to talk to bidders other than Horizon about buying the company. Crest is owned by a consortium of its lenders headed by Lloyds HBOS, following a £630m debt for equity swap last year.