New home registrations hit highest since 2007

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The number of new homes being registered across the UK hit its highest levels since 2007 in the second quarter of 2016, according to an industry body.

And for the first time since the early 2000s, the number of detached family-sized homes being registered is higher than the number of flats.

The figures were provided by the National House Building Council (NHBC), a warranty and insurance provider.

It said 41,222 new homes were registered in the second quarter of this year, marking a 1% increase on the same period a year earlier and the highest figure for any quarter since the last three months of 2007.

The private sector drove the upswing, with a 6% increase in new homes being registered compared with a year ago, while the number of new homes registered in the public and affordable sector was down 13% compared with a year earlier. 

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 before starting work, which means its figures represent homes that are to be built in the months ahead.

The latest figures also show that for the first time since 2002, the proportion of detached homes being registered is higher than the number of flats.

Some 30% of homes being registered are detached, while 27% are flats and maisonettes, 24% are semi-detached, 17% are terraced and 2% bungalows.

A year ago, flats and maisonettes accounted for 31% of new properties being registered, although this number was already tumbling compared with the 48% of homes being registered that were flats and maisonettes in 2008. Some 27% of homes registered a year ago were detached.  

The NHBC's latest figures also showed that registrations increased in half of the UK's regions or countries in the second quarter, while in the other half they fell.

In London, new registrations were down by 29% compared with a year earlier, while in Wales new registrations fell back by 30%.

The South East and the North East of England saw strong increases in registrations, with rises of 37% and 34% respectively compared with a year earlier. In Scotland, new registrations were down by 7% compared with the same period in 2015, while in Northern Ireland they fell by 10%.

Yorkshire and Humberside, the East Midlands, Eastern England and the South West also saw increases in new build registrations compared with a year earlier, while the West Midlands and the North West saw falls. 

NHBC chief executive Mike Quinton said the figures reflect "continued industry confidence in the run-up to the EU referendum".

Asked whether there was a significance to the fall in new registrations in London, Mr Quinton said: "We have seen activity slowing down well before the Brexit vote."

He said London had already seen huge jumps in new build registrations in recent years and "what builders are now doing is building out the registrations they have given some time ago".

Speaking generally about the mood in industry in the wake of the referendum, Mr Quinton said while the outcome was "clearly a surprise" for many, confidence is returning.

"The mood music is very positive," he said.

Neil Jefferson, business development director at the NHBC, added that on the sites he had visited in recent weeks, it was a case of "business as usual".