Coronavirus: Taylor Wimpey reports surge of buyers' interest in new homes

Tom BelgerFinance and policy reporter
Yahoo Finance UK
A Taylor Wimpey site as many sites see construction resume. (PA)
A Taylor Wimpey site as many sites see construction resume. (PA)

Taylor Wimpey (TW.L) has seen a surge in demand for new homes among potential buyers since the UK government eased restrictions on England’s property market.

The housebuilding giant said it had seen appointment numbers triple in the final week of May and web traffic up 32% on a year earlier. Interest was also strong in its 5% discount scheme for National Health Service (NHS) and care workers, it said.

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The company said in a trading update on Friday the majority of its sales centres and showrooms had reopened in England, with social distancing rules in place. All of its employees have returned to work, often remotely, with many previously on furlough.

It also said construction had resumed on the majority of its sites in England and Wales, after it paused building and drew up COVID-19 safety plans when the crisis began. The company highlighted phased sign-in times for workers, personal protective equipment, detailed signs and “strict protocols” and a new code of conduct on the coronavirus.

READ MORE: Fears over construction workers’ safety as sites reopen

The latest update said Taylor Wimpey was “on track to reach meaningful production capacity” by the end of June. But it added: “Our phased approach prioritises the protection of our customers, employees and subcontractors over the volumes achievable at these early stages.”

The latest update highlighted the severe impact of COVID-19 and site closures have had on construction. 2,455 properties were completed in the 22 weeks to the end of May, down from 4,052 a year earlier.

Cancellations were at a “low level,” however, with a smaller percentage of private orders cancelled than a year earlier. 5% of orders were scrapped in the nine weeks after lockdown began, compared to 6% a year earlier.

The company’s shares jumped more than 7% on the update.

READ MORE: UK house prices fall for a third month but demand picks up

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