January 11, 2018 / 8:35 AM / 8 days ago

UPDATE 1-British builder Barratt's sales rate flat, prices rise

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LONDON, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Britain’s Barratt reported a flat sales rate in the last six months of 2017, although the country’s biggest housebuilder said prices rose and it expects to build even more homes this year.

Net private reservations per outlet per week, the number of customers paying to take a house off the market across the firm’s 400-odd selling locations, remained unchanged at 0.68 compared to the previous year.

“If you go back and look at sales rates five years ago, we would have been selling at round about 0.5 so we’ve seen dramatic increases in sales rates both in Barratt and in the industry generally,” Chief Executive David Thomas told Reuters.

“These are record sales. We’ve never previously seen sales rates at this level,” he said.

The builder also said its total completions had risen 2 percent to 7,324 homes in the period and it expects this year to beat the 17,395 homes it built in the twelve months to the end of June 2017.

The average selling price of its houses had increased 6.5 percent to 281,000 pounds ($379,100) in the second half of last year, the latest builder to benefit from rising prices which have driven bumper profits across the sector.

Shares in Barratt were down 1.1 percent at 627 pence at 0818 GMT.

“Barratt is our least preferred housebuilder due to relatively low margins,” analysts at Liberum said. ($1 = 0.7412 pounds) (Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Estelle Shirbon and Alexander Smith)

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