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New home starts lowest for fifty years

Figures from the NHBC show that fewer homes were begun by housebuilders last year than at any time since records began.
Over 88,000 homes were registered to start with the NHBC last year, a fall of 18% on 2008; the first time it’s ever dropped below 100,000. Of these, 55,911 were private homes for sale, down from 72,114 in 2008.

Large volume housebuilders have said recently that they are looking to start up sites, but the numbers built are unlikely to be much higher this year than last year.

There is a perception that 2009 was a better year for housebuilders than the dismal 2008 when the crash began, but the NHBC statistics also show that average weekly sales for NHBC-registered builders were 21% less last year than in 2008.

Imtiaz Farookhi, chief executive of the NHBC, said: “What we’ve seen is the mother of all corrections and a very sharp recession. And while we are seeing some encouraging signs, the industry’s ability to ratchet production back up is limited owing to the skilled labour that has been lost.” The figures show the number of homes completed fell from 148,000 in 2008 to 116,000 in 2009.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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