Property companies battle housing gloom

Property companies Taylor Wimpey and Rightmove both reported positive financial results yesterday, but warned of continuing sluggishness in the housing market.

Taylor Wimpey, the UK's second-largest house builder, reported a 31 per cent jump in first-half pre-tax profits. Although revenues fell by 28 per cent to £818m following the sale of the group's US and Canadian business, pre-tax profits soared to £28.9m, from a loss of £2.3m in the sameperiod of last year.

After a first half described by Taylor Wimpey chief executive Pete Redfern as "transformational", the housebuilder's operating margin is running at 9.3 per cent, and is expected to hit double digits in 2012.

The group built 4,707 homes in the first six months of the year, slightly less than in 2010, and average sale prices remained flat at £168,000.

"Although there is ongoing uncertainty in the wider economic environment, conditions in the UK housing market remain stable," Mr Redfern said. "We expect this stability to continue for the remainder of 2011."

Separately, Rightmove, the property website, reported pre-tax profits up by 17 per cent to £28.7m as its estate agent clients continued to spend on internet listings despite the sticky market.

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