Housebuilder Persimmon reports profit jump

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image captionPersimmon built 17% more homes in 2014 than the previous year

UK housebuilder Persimmon has reported a big rise in full-year profits, and says it has had an "encouraging" start to the current year.

Pre-tax profit jumped nearly 40% to £467m last year, with revenue up 23% to £2.6bn.

Persimmon completed 13,509 homes in 2014, up 17%, while its average property price rose 5.3% to £190,533.

It said demand was helped by improved lending from mortgage providers and the government's Help to Buy scheme.

Persimmon sold 5,358 properties to buyers using the Help to Buy scheme in 2014. Around 39% of its sales in 2015 so far have been to Help to Buy customers.

The company said the housing market "returned to a more traditional seasonal trading pattern in the second half of 2014", but it was still upbeat about its prospects.

"We have had an encouraging start to 2015 and experienced a solid opening period to the spring season with current total forward sales of £1,490m, 5% ahead of the previous year," said Persimmon chairman Nicholas Wrigley.

"Despite some uncertainty arising from the general election in May, the ongoing gradual improvement in the UK economy and increasing mortgage lender support provides a supportive backdrop for the new homes market."

On Monday, rival housebuilder Bovis Homes reported a 69% rise in annual profits to £133.5m after what it called an "excellent" year.

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