PROPERTY sales are moving in the right direction for York housebuilder Persimmon, with the company already forward selling more than 7,000 new homes this year.

Persimmon’s chairman Nicholas Wrigley told shareholders at yesterday’s annual meeting that a 25 per cent improvement in sales rates for the 15 weeks of 2014, compared to the previous year, has resulted in current total forward sales of £1.87 billion.

The total forward sales revenue is up 35 per cent from 2013 when it stood at £1.38b.

The meeting, held at York Racecourse, also heard how Persimmon has finalised an amendment to £300m debt, initially negotiated in 2011, with the company’s five banks agreeing to extend the revolving credit facility to March 31, 2019.

Mr Wrigley said: “The new financial year has started well with visitor levels to our sites up 10 per cent over the prior year during the initial 15 weeks of trading.

“Cancellation rates over this period of 14 per cent continue to run at historically low levels.

“We have around 7,200 new homes sold forward into the private sale market for 2014 which is 38 per cent ahead of the same point last year, with an average selling price of around £200,400 which is three per cent higher.

“The recently announced extension of Help to Buy to March 2020 provides welcome support to potential new home purchasers for this additional four year period.

“ With the support of the mortgage lending industry, housebuilders have the opportunity to continue to increase the industry’s development commitments in support of increasing the number of new homes. Our strategy remains focused on exercising capital discipline through the cycle while growing the business as market conditions allow.”

Persimmon, which employs 105 of 2,500 staff at its headquarters in Fulford, has around 395 active sites across the UK, and has opened 75 of the 90 new outlets targeted for the first half of 2014.

Simon Usher, deputy managing director of Persimmon Homes Yorkshire, said: “This increased activity also brings more jobs for the region. We have actively been recruiting since January for a range of positions and we are now focusing on school leavers as we seek to fill apprentice positions.”