July 5, 2017 / 7:02 AM / 2 years ago

UK's McCarthy & Stone order book robust, but slows post polls

July 5 (Reuters) - McCarthy & Stone Plc, Britain’s biggest builder of homes for retirees, reported a hefty order book of forward sales since March, but said sales momentum slowed in recent weeks, hurt by uncertainty brought on by the country’s general election.

The company, which returned to the London stock market in November 2015 after just under eight years in private hands, said its forward order book had grown by 241 million pounds ($311.3 million) since March 1.

“The market for high-quality retirement housing remains strong notwithstanding any potential uncertainty as a result of the UK General Election outcome and the underlying housing market continues to be supported by low interest rates, good mortgage availability and low levels of unemployment,” CEO Clive Fenton said.

McCarthy & Stone has been making “good progress” in rebuilding its forward order book after the shortfall it experienced following Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, it said.

UK’s housebuilding market was weakened by the Brexit vote, which weighed on McCarthy’s half-year results. The company also warned of some impact on current-year growth due to a weak forward order book and a more measured approach to land negotiation.

The firm said, however, that current uncertainty in the market could have a modest impact on the timing of conversion of existing reservations into completions.

National elections can often dampen demand as buyers put off major purchases.

Average selling prices was over 280,000 pounds per unit during the period, up from 265,000 pounds a year earlier, with total forward sales including legal completions to date in line with 2016 at 659 million pounds, McCarthy said. ($1 = 0.7742 pounds) (Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Esha Vaish in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)

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