Taylor Wimpey reports good start to 2021 after pandemic year hit

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Saint Albans

(Reuters) – Britain’s third-largest homebuilder Taylor Wimpey (LON:) said the 2021 selling season has started well, ahead of possible additional incentives for the sector in the budget, and resumed dividend payment as promised.

The group reported 2020 pre-tax profit at 264.4 million pounds ($366.96 million), slightly below the 267 million pound average estimate in a company-provided poll, but 68.4% down from a year ago.

Britain is set to extend a stamp duty break by three months and unveil a mortgage guarantee scheme in Wednesday’s budget, local media reported, moves that would bolster the sector after Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled an exit plan from lockdowns.

“The 2021 selling season has started well, following on from the stronger than expected recovery of the housing market in the second half of 2020 and reflecting the underlying strength of demand,” said the company, which has operations in the UK and Spain.

The firm declared a final dividend of 4.14 pence per share, while annual revenue fell about 37% to 2.79 billion pounds.

Housing demand had rebounded in mid-2020 from initial coronavirus curbs, helped by stamp duty relief, low interest rates and consumers seeking bigger homes to meet the demands of remote work during the pandemic.

Last month, Britain’s largest homebuilder Barratt Developments (LON:) signalled strong demand for new homes, while No.2 Persimmon (LON:), which is reporting its annual results on Wednesday, reported a jump in its forward sales.

UK builders and property firms have stayed optimistic even after industry surveys suggested the boom in the market cooled sharply in January as the country went back into lockdown to tackle a more infectious variant of coronavirus.

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