Persimmon PLC (LON:PSN) said house sales so far in 2021 are running 11% higher than the year before the pandemic as the UK’s mini-housing boom continues.

Forward sales for the period from 1 January to now are worth £3bn, it added, or 23% above a year ago when the pandemic struck and compare to £2.7bn in 2019.

Prices are also rising, said the FTSE100 housebuilder, with the average for a private house built by the group now £252,000 against £244,500 a year ago.

Dean Finch, chief executive, said it had been a strong start to the year with build rates at pre-Covid levels and first-half volumes approaching those of 2019.

Persimmon was also buying land, he added, with 6,000 plots across 29 locations acquired this year.

 “Demand for newly built homes remains healthy and the Group’s sales rates are encouraging,” he said.

Persimmon repeated that it intends to pay a 110p special dividend in two instalments each amounting to 55p per share, the first in August 2021 and the second in December 2021.

The group held £940m of cash on 23 April 2021 alongside an undrawn £300m Revolving Credit Facility.

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