UK Housing Boom Over?

This is the first really concrete piece of news we’ve had on the UK housing situation. George Wimpey Plc, Britain’s second-biggest homebuilder by revenue have just announced that full-year pretax profit probably fell for the first time in a decade:

U.K. sales slipped 1 percent to 12,100 homes, with the average selling price dropping 4 percent, more than analysts had expected. Pretax profit was as much as 22 percent below 2004’s record level and at the lower end of estimates, Chief Executive Officer Peter Johnson said in an interview today.

Prospective buyers shunned purchases as Britain’s benchmark interest rate reached 4.75 percent last year, making mortgage payments more expensive. A quarter-point cut by the Bank of England on Aug. 4 has yet to revive prices. Wimpey last reported a decline in annual pretax profit in 1995. The second-half figure also fell, Johnson said today.