Persimmon has said house prices and profit margins remain under pressure despite a promising start to 2009

In a trading update last week, the housebuilder said sales in the first 16 weeks of the year had been ahead of expectations. Turnover in the period was £960m – 30% down on the £1.37bn in 2008. This, in turn, was 24% down on £1.8bn in the equivalent period in 2007.

It said: “While the recent improvement in market conditions is encouraging, we will remain cautious about the outlook until mortgage availability improves further and employment prospects become less uncertain.”

We are, however, confident that our position in the market will provide a strong platform for growth when the market improves.”