UK Housing Slowdown Causes Uncertainty For Barratt Developments

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Barratt Developments PLC (LON:BDEV) saw its net private reservations per week fall to 155 the first half of the year, compared to 259 last year. This reflects the slowdown in the UK housing market caused by “significant” changes in mortgage rates which reduced not only affordability, but also homebuyer confidence and reservation activity through the second quarter.

Total completions in the first half increased from 8,067 to 8,626. However, total forward sales at the end of 2022 were 10,511, down 29.1% at the end of 2021.

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The group’s average selling price increased by roughly 14.6% to £330k, reflecting an increased proportion of London completions and underlying house price inflation.

Its net cash position fell from £1.1bn to £965m, as the group committed to land spend, working capital investment and returned money to shareholders via dividends and share buybacks. Barratt stated its outlook for the second half of its financial year remained “uncertain” and have reduced land approvals and paused recruitment in order to manage its working capital.

The shares fell 2.9% following the announcement.

Barratt Developments Warns Investors Of A Housing Slowdown

Aarin Chiekrie, Equity Analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown:

“Barratt warned investors of a marked slowdown in the UK housing market in its latest trading update, which saw the total order book value fall from £3.8bn at the end of 2021, to £2.5bn by the end of 2022.  Reservation rates also fell by more than 100 homes per week over this period.

Higher average selling prices helped offset some of the pressure of falling sales, pushed higher by an increased proportion of London completions as well as underlying house price inflation. But the group also responded to the slowdown by significantly reducing land approvals, pausing recruitment, and introducing more controls at new site openings to manage its working capital.

While the outlook for the second half of Barratt’s financial year remains uncertain, we’re cautiously optimistic for the group’s prospects in the long run. Recession fears have put housebuilders in a tricky spot, but Barratt’s significant net cash position of £965m gives it plenty of wiggle room compared to peers, even if the housing market deteriorates further.”