Taylor Wimpey sees solid 2019, but watching for Brexit impact

House-builder Taylor Wimpey has cheered a stable property market in 2018 despite Brexit uncertainty, and said it was seeing “solid” signs for the year ahead.

Shares in the group lifted 6% as it gave a bullish end-of-year update, reporting a 3% rise in house sales to 14,947 during 2018.

Taylor added that average prices on private sales lifted 2% to £301,000 and said it ended the year with an order book worth £1.8 billion, up from £1.6 billion a year earlier.

It said trading was robust, but reiterated signs of increased customer caution towards the end of the year in London and the South East

The group said: “Whilst it is clearly too early to give a definitive view on 2019 trading, we continue to see solid forward sales indicators and start the year with a very strong order book.

“However, we will continue to closely monitor market conditions for any potential impact on customer confidence in light of the wider political and economic uncertainty.”

The cheery outlook also sparked share gains across the house-building sector, with rivals Persimmon and Barratt Developments both up 4% in the FTSE 100.

It comes after Halifax figures on Tuesday showed that house prices recorded a surprise 2.2% jump in December following a 1.2% fall in November.

But there are fears over a hit to the market from a no-deal Brexit, with the Bank of England warning that the worst-case scenario could see house prices slump by a third.

Taylor Wimpey chief executive Pete Redfern said: “Despite wider macroeconomic uncertainty, the housing market remained stable during 2018 and we had a good trading performance.”

“As we enter 2019, we maintain our guidance for stable volumes although are mindful of market sensitivity.”

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, warned that clouds may be gathering on the horizon for house-builders.

He said: “In theory the Goldilocks ‘just right’ conditions which have fuelled booming profits for the house-building sector remain in place; the jobs market is strong, mortgage rates are low and the Help to Buy scheme is in place until 2023.

“But the current uncertainty means Taylor Wimpey, and its peers, can take nothing for granted.”