All but one big housebuilder sees decline in land bank volumes

New research has revealed that all but one of the big housebuilders has seen a reduction in the volume of land banking plots held on an annual basis.

APRAO analysed the latest annual reports of the seven major UK property developers, looking at total land banking plots held* and how this total compares to the previous year.

The figures show that some 501,691 land bank plots are currently held by the big housebuilders, a reduction of -5.4% on the 530,378 held the previous year.

Barratt Developments has seen the largest decline in the number of plots held within its land bank, down -13% year on year. Berkeley Group has also seen one of the largest land bank reductions, with total plots falling by -12.3% year on year.

Persimmon has seen the third largest reduction at -5.7%, although with a total of 82,235 plots still held, it does rank as the housebuilder with the second strongest book in this respect.

What’s more, Redrow (-4.5%), Taylor Wimpey (-3%) and Vistry Group (-1.7%) have also seen a year on year decline in total land bank plots held.

Just one housebuilder has seen an increase, albeit a marginal one. Bellway’s land bank currently sits at 98,164 plots, the largest of all the major housebuilders, having seen this total increase by 0.5% year on year. CEO of APRAO, Daniel Norman, commented:

“While 2023 proved to be a particularly tricky one for the UK property market, the overarching expectation was that 2024 would bring a greater degree of market stability and that’s certainly what we’ve seen in recent months.

Mortgage approvals are climbing as buyers return to the mix and house prices have also started to improve, driven almost entirely by a buoyant new-build market.

It’s clear that the nation’s big housebuilders have acted in anticipation of these improving market conditions, utilising their existing land banks with the aim of delivering additional stock to market in order to help fuel this improving market sentiment.

Of course, with other factors such as higher interest rates still presenting an obstacle, there has been less urgency to refresh land bank stock levels. But with the base rate forecast to fall this year, it’s likely that 2024 will see developers renew their stock pipeline when the time is right.”

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