Berkeley chairman Roger Lewis has hit back at claims that the housing market is about to crash.
Lewis issued a bullish statement to the City last Friday dismissing concerns that house price growth is unsustainable. A number of banks and forecasters have warned that a crash may be imminent as houses move out of the reach of many prospective buyers.

But Lewis said Berkeley's sales for May, June and July were at record levels and its performance in August was also strong. He added that he did not normally give trading updates at annual meetings, but wanted to counter growing pessimism over the housing market.

He said: "We continue to look forward to the future with confidence. Our purchasers are coming from both owner-occupiers and from investment buyers, and the pattern is broadly consistent across the country."

He pointed to the lowest interest rates in 40 years, restricted supply because of planning constraints and the attractiveness of housing as an investment as reasons why the market was so strong.

Lewis did concede that house prices in relation to income were high, particularly in London and the South-east. He said these figures, which put London prices at more than five times earnings, did not take into account low interest rates, which still made house buying comfortably affordable for most. Lewis said: "Existing homeowners have built up good equity in their properties, while inherited money can provide a further source of funds."

We look forward to the future with confidence

Roger Lewis, Berkeley chairman

Berkeley is one of the best performing housebuilders in the UK and posted a record pre-tax profit of £178.1m for the year to 30 April, on a turnover of £867m.

When the results were announced in June, Lewis said the group was on track to increase turnover in this financial year to £1.3bn if sales levels were sustained. He said margins and average selling prices were rising.

Like many other housebuilders, Berkeley is now selling fewer but higher-priced houses, as demand outstrips supply because of delays created by planning constraints.