Beast from the East chills housebuilding in Q1

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Housebuilding reached the second highest point in a decade during the 2017-18 financial year but the freezing start to 2018 saw a sharp drop in activity, according to new statistics

Figures from the National House Building Council show there were 36,637 new home registrations between January and March, a drop of 14% compared with the same period of last year.

It said the slowdown was partly down to the arctic conditions at the start of the year, with some builders reporting that up to 30 days were lost on site in Q1 due to the so-called Beast from the East.

Other factors included ongoing skills shortages, caution over Brexit and short-term market fluctuations.

In all, 154,698 new homes were registered with the NHBC in 2017-18, down 2% on 2016-17 but still the second highest figure in a decade. There were 116,451 homes registered in the private sector and 38,247 in the affordable sector.

Housebuilding rose in six out of 12 UK regions compared with 2016-17. Some of the biggest increases were in the North West (18,272, up 21%), the East Midlands (14,314, up 12%) and Wales (5,384, up 11%).

However, new home registrations fell sharply in London, dropping by 12% from 22,866 to 20,182.

Steve Wood, NHBC chief executive, said: “New home registration figures for the last financial year have reached the second highest level in a decade despite a challenging start to 2018, with freezing weather conditions affecting building sites up and down the country.

“Business confidence in both the private and affordable sectors remains high, with clear routes to continued growth in 2018, and NHBC will continue to help support housebuilders to build the high quality new homes that people across the UK need.”

According to figures from mortgage lender Nationwide, the average UK house price grew by 2.6% in April to stand at £213,000.

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