Bellway sees leap in would-be buyers despite freeze

Would-be homebuyers are braving the icy temperatures to boost the property market after a surge in sales during the past six weeks, the chief executive of the housebuilder Bellway said yesterday.

Despite average temperatures of just 3.1 C this month in the "spring" selling season, Bellway's sales reservations in the six weeks since 1 February have risen more than 10 per cent on this time last year to 133 a week. The improvement means Bellway, London's third-biggest housebuilder by volume, has achieved 94 per cent of its full-year sales target.

Bellway, which grew pre-tax profits by 48 per cent to £59.9m in the six months to 31 January as cheaper land fattens margins, cheered investors with a 50 per cent hike in the interim dividend to 9p.