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Number of new homes being registered ‘still close to highest levels in a decade’

By Vicky Shaw, Press Association Personal Finance Correspondent
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Number of new homes being registered ‘still close to highest levels in a decade’

The bad weather caused disruption for house builders in early 2018, the National House Building Council has said.

The number of new homes being registered has reached its second highest levels in a decade over the last year, despite the freezing weather disrupting activity, according to an industry body.

Some 154,698 new homes were registered to be built in the 2017/18 financial year – a figure which was down by 2% compared with 2016/17 but still the second strongest year seen in the past decade – according to the National House Building Council (NHBC).

More than half of new homes registered in 2017/18 were detached or semi-detached homes and less than a quarter (24%) were flats.

Just 2,579 or 2% were bungalows – compared with 28,831 new bungalows registered in 1986/87.

Last financial year saw 116,451 new homes registered in the private sector and 38,247 homes registered in the affordable sector.

Half of the UK’s nations and regions saw a growth in registrations compared with the previous year, including a 21% jump in the North West of England, a 12% increase in the East Midlands and an 11% uplift in Wales.

By contrast, in London, the number of new build registrations plunged by 23%.

The NHBC’s registration figures are taken from builders who are responsible for around 80% of homes constructed in the UK.

Builders are required to register a house with the NHBC, a warranty and insurance provider, before starting work, which means its figures represent homes to be built in the months ahead.

Neil Jefferson, chief operating officer at the NHBC, told the Press Association: “Looking forward, there remains continued positivity.”

He said that despite last year’s registrations dip in London: “We are seeing quite a lot of activity in the affordable and sub-£600,000 bracket.”

The new figures also revealed a slower start to 2018, with 36,637 new homes registered in the first three months of the year, a 14% decrease compared with the same period last year.

The NHBC said the fall can in part be attributed to the exceptionally bad weather during the start of the year, which severely affected progress on building sites across the country.

It said there have been anecdotal reports from some house builders that up to 30 days were lost on site in the first quarter of the year as a direct result of the freezing conditions.

Other contributory factors include shortages in skills across the house-building industry, caution around Brexit and short-term market fluctuations, the NHBC said.

NHBC chief executive Steve Wood said: “New home registration figures for the last financial year have reached the second highest level in a decade, despite a challenging start to 2018, with freezing weather conditions affecting building sites up and down the country.

“Business confidence in both the private and affordable sectors remains high with clear routes to continued growth in 2018.”

Here are the number of new homes registered in the financial year 2017/18 and the percentage change compared with a year earlier, according to the NHBC:
– North East, 6,466, minus 2%
– North West, 18,272, 21%
– Yorkshire and Humberside, 9,331, minus 10%
– West Midlands, 14,587, 9%
– East Midlands, 14,314, 12%
– Eastern, 16,448, minus 3%
– South West, 14,122, minus 15%
– London, 14,795, minus 23%
– South East, 25,475, minus 5%
– Scotland, 11,891, 1%
– Wales, 5,384, 11%
– Northern Ireland (includes Isle of Man), 3,613, 7%