Bovis Homes counts the cost of Diamond Jubilee

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The Independent Online

The Diamond Jubilee was no good for housebuilders as would-be buyers fled the country or put moving on hold to join in the celebrations, Bovis Homes said yesterday.

The four-day break gave added headaches for an industry dealing with a sluggish economy and a tough mortgage market as visitor numbers slumped.

David Ritchie, the chief executive, said: "We didn't see a lot of people during the two weeks before and after the long weekend. A lot of people clearly took the opportunity to get away. Most of our visitors to the sites come in a four-day period from Friday to Monday, but we saw a dramatic short-term fall in visitors."

But the housebuilder sold 944 homes in the first half of 2012 – up 18 per cent on last year – while average sales prices rose by one per cent to £164,400. Cheaper land bought since the crash is also fattening profit margins, which are expected to hit 21 per cent in the first half.

Nervy buyers are taking longer to sign on the dotted line. "It used to be days and weeks but now it is weeks and months – and people want to go back and look three or four times as well," Mr Ritchie said.