In the first of a new series, Building takes the market's temperature in the housebuilding sector

The mid-market is a great hunting ground for acquisitive housebuilders, according to the first analysis of activity from Catalyst Corporate Finance.

Housebuilders have had a busy 12 months of consolidation, which included Persimmon's £643m takeover of Westbury, and the industry is expecting more.

But it has been the mid-market, which includes companies with a value of anything between £10m and £150m, which has been the biggest target.

In the past 12 months there have been six mid-market deals, totalling more than £200m.

Major housebuilders such as Persimmon, Wilson Bowden and Kier were among the buyers.

The key driver of any major housebuilder is the need to maintain its land bank. If it can acquire a chunk of land by snapping up a firm, it simplifies the land acquisition process.

The most attractive targets are often family-built business. Major housebuilders are drawn to these sorts of firms because they represent willing sellers - even if there is an emotional element involved.

Most acquirers look to consolidate their geographic coverage. In acquiring Senator Homes in December 2005, Persimmon consolidated the market in Cumbria by removing a major competitor, which will help deflate land prices in the area.

So, if you are a family or management-owned housebuilder with a decent land bank and a strong regional presence, don't be surprised if you get a knock on the door from one of the majors.