UK’s third biggest housebuilder responds quickly as government restarts the housing market
Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey is to reopen show homes and sales centres from next Friday following the government’s overnight announcement that it will effectively restart the housing market.
The firm said in an update to the City that construction had now resumed on 90% of its sites across England and Wales and that the government’s announcement meant it could take the majority of its staff out of furlough.
Taylor Wimpey will allow customers to visit sales offices and show homes from 22 May by pre-booked appointment with strict social distancing measures in place.
It said it expected to recall the majority of sales staff from furlough by next Monday and that the rest will follow before the end of the month.
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick yesterday evening said that guidance restricting all but “critical” home moves during the lockdown was being relaxed to allow the housing market to restart, while new guidance was being given to planners to allow online consultations and defer the payment of planning obligations where necessary.
Taylor Wimpey chief executive Pete Redfern said the relaxation of the rules was “very welcome” and added: “However, we believe that it is our responsibility to apply these rules carefully and protect the health of our customers and employees.”
The firm said it had sold 408 homes during the lockdown, at an effective rate of 0.3 homes per site per week, less than half of the normal level. Despite this, the firm’s order book is above the level it was at this point last year, with 11,033 homes sold by 10 May, compared to 10,489, worth £2.7bn compared to £2.5bn in 2019.
Despite reopening show homes, Taylor Wimpey said it will continue to encourage customers to communicate with the firm digitally where possible.
As part of its decision to reopen sites, employees, suppliers and subcontractors will have to sign a Taylor Wimpey covid-19 code of conduct, which ensures they work in an approved manner, with subcontractors expected to return to sites next week.
The firm said it will also offer NHS staff, care workers and the emergency services a 5% discount on any new home, in line with the discount it gives to employees.