Housebuilder Persimmon has reported a surge in profits and said that demand has held up following Britain's decision to leave the European Union.

The company said pre-tax profits rose 29% to £352.3 million for the first half of the year, while revenues increased 12% to £1.49 billion.

Persimmon's chief executive Jeff Fairburn said that, despite increased uncertainty, customer interest since the vote has been "robust".

He said: "While the result of the EU referendum has created increased economic uncertainty, customer interest since then has been robust with visitor numbers to our sites around 20% ahead year on year.

"Our private sale reservation rate since 1 July is currently 17% ahead of the same period last year. The group is now trading through the traditionally slower summer weeks but customer demand remains encouraging and we anticipate a good autumn sales season."

Persimmon and its listed rivals saw shares surge after the Bank of England slashed interest rates to 0.25% from 0.5% and unveiled a package of measures worth up to £170 billion.

With more rate cuts likely before the end of the year, housebuilders are seen as being among the biggest beneficiaries of the Bank's economic recovery plan.

However, Persimmon added that it will "remain cautious" with respect to new land investment in the face of uncertainty created by the vote.

"After a modest increase in the week following the referendum result, cancellations have returned to normal levels and are currently running slightly lower than the same period last year.

"The overall shortage of supply of housing in the UK may provide a degree of support to the housing market ... Action taken by the Government to adjust policy to support UK economic performance may provide further mitigation as might any response with respect to interest rates by the Bank of England," the company said.

The firm said completions increased 6% to 7,238 new homes sold, with the average selling price also rising 6% to £205,762.

Persimmon added that, with the cost of mortgage funding "remaining at compelling levels", supported by a competitive lending market, the housing market "across our regions remains confident".

  • The UK housing market proved resilient in the first month after the Brexit vote despite a slowdown for commercial property, a report has found.

Data from HM Revenue and Customs showed the number of residential transactions slipped 0.9% month-on-month to 94,550 in July compared to 95,430 in June.

The buying and selling of commercial buildings came under pressure, dropping 7.5% month-on-month to 9,820 in July, down from 10,620 the month before.

Stephen Smith, director of the Legal & General Housing Partnerships, urged caution over pinning the declines on the Brexit vote.

He said the fall could also be caused by the "seasonal lull" over the summer months.

"What these figures really highlight is the ongoing imbalance in supply and demand that is plaguing our housing market," he added.
Investors have punished housing stocks following the EU referendum result amid concerns Brexit uncertainty could deal a blow to demand.

Bovis Homes notched up a double-digit rise in half-year profits and said the ''underlying market fundamentals'' for the UK housing market remained positive.

Andrew Bridges, managing director of Stirling Ackroyd, said the "slight stutter" in the property markets was not a cause for alarm.

He said the barriers caused by stamp duty and the difficulty of saving for a deposit could put off London's first-time buyers.

"In London these problems will sharpen over the next couple of months as lower interest rates encourage buyers to grab a property with a cheaper mortgage, putting those with small deposits at a disadvantage," he added.