INCREASED demand for new homes and improved mortgage availability have led to a more positive outlook for the housing market in the region.
That's according to the managing director of Exeter-based housebuilder Persimmon Homes South West, which has reported a strong start to 2013.
Underlying pre-tax profits for the group in the first half of 2013 were up 40 per cent on last year, at £135.3m. The number of homes completed by the firm across the UK was up seven per cent to 5,022.
As well as building private housing under the Persimmon Homes and Charles Church brands, the group is developing affordable homes through Westbury Partnerships.
Forward sales were up 21 per cent at £1.26bn, while more than 1,700 reservations have been made under the Help to Buy since it launched in April.
South West MD Simon Perks said: "Nationally we have seen a 15 per cent increase in visitors to our developments, with weekly private sales reservations 12 per cent ahead of the same period in 2012, rising to 30 per cent stronger following the introduction of the Government's Help to Buy measures.
"We are working hard to deliver new homes to people across the region. In the first half of this year we successfully opened 90 new sites – including developments in Cranbrook, Exeter, Okehampton, Truro, Taunton, Sidmouth and Wellington – and expect to open a further 85 before the end of the year, with new developments due in Liskeard, Plymouth, Crediton, Sherborne, Ilminster, Falmouth and South Petherton.
"To meet the ever-increasing demand for quality new homes, the company continues to make significant investments in strategic land."
During the first six months of the year, Persimmon acquired 7,538 new plots of land and added a further 800 acres to its strategic land bank.
It also intends to create more jobs across the 24 businesses in the group. The firm has recently announced a national recruitment drive to encourage more than 100 trade apprentices to join the business and is also recruiting new staff in technical, managerial and sales functions across the company.
Mr Perks added: "As a region, we are delighted with the group's performance and I would like to thank my own team for their hard work in helping to deliver these results.
"Our attention now turns to the second half of this year as we continue to focus on the basics of good housebuilding to deliver further improvement in the performance of the business."