Housebuilders say sales are improving

Britain's housing market has put its worst days behind it but continues to be dogged by uncertainty, two leading housebuilders agreed yesterday.

Both Berkeley Group and Bellway said sales and trading had improved during the second half of the year, but warned that worries about unemployment and the political uncertainty around the general election were holding the market back.

Berkeley, which is Britain's third largest housebuilder, said its half-year profits had fallen by a third, though its margins have improved. Bellway, which is smaller, said its sales would be 10 per cent up over the half year. Nationwide Building Society said this week that house prices rose 0.5 per cent last month, the ninth month of gains in a row.