BRIEF-Abertis to reach minimum of 88 pct in HIT
* Closes acquisition of a 9.65 percent stake in HIT from Axa Republique
LONDON Jan 14 Housebuilder Barratt Developments said total home sales grew 71 percent in the first six months of its financial year compared to the prior year, driven by a recovery in Britain's housing market across all regions.
Britain's largest housebuilder by volume said on Tuesday total forward sales, excluding joint ventures, over the six months to end-December jumped to 1.27 billion pounds ($2.08 billion), from 742.1 million pounds, equating to 7,007 plots.
It said it had increased output levels alongside higher sales rates, with private reservations rising by 36.7 percent in the period, and was seeing an increase in underlying sales prices across the group due to the improved market conditions and strong consumer demand.
The company and its rival housebuilders have seen demand surge on the back of a government move in 2013 to help struggling house buyers by providing loans and guaranteeing mortgages. Barratt said 29 percent of its total completions over the period used the "Help to Buy" scheme.
The company said it also expected its total average selling price on completions to have risen by 13.7 percent to 211,000 pounds in the period, due to a move to build more lucrative family homes rather than high density city-centre apartments.
"As a result of the continued recovery of the housing market across all regions and our 3.1 billion pound investment in new land over the last four years, we have been able to increase materially the number of new homes being built and our profitability," Chief Executive Mark Clare said.
Separately, Countrywide Holdings, Britain's largest estate agent by revenue, said it expected to deliver 2013 profit at the top end of its expectations due to strong income growth of 11 percent over the year to end-December.