Taylor Wimpey delivered a strong set of full-year results as market conditions remain buoyant in the new-build sector, although as expected stated profits were lower because of the provision for helping customers affected by the leasehold scandal. Revenues were up 7.9% to just shy of £4bn with profits pre-tax and pre-exceptional items rising 10.7% to £812m

The stated profit for the year fell 5.8% from £589.3m to £555.3, which was down to the net exceptional charge of £105m taken in relation to the leasehold provision. Remove that and net profits are up c£60m.

As we have witnessed across the housebuilder sector, demand for new homes is strong, supported by very strong fundamentals – low mortgage rates, Help to Buy, low unemployment and lack of supply. Taylor Wimpey has been one of the biggest beneficiaries from Help to Buy along with Persimmon, Gleeson and Countryside.

Key performance metrics were as flagged in the January trading update. The company enjoyed a record return on net operating assets of 32.4% (2016: 30.7%), ahead of its target, while operating profit margin rose to 21.2% (2016: 20.8%), on course to achieve 22% margins for 2018. Excluding joint ventures, UK total average selling prices rose 3.5% to £264k (2016: £255k). Total completions (including Spain and JVs) of 14,842 homes was up 4.6% from 2016’s 14,185.

Trading so far in 2018 is solid enough although there is a sign of some softening in demand - net private sales rate YTD stands at 0.81 versus 0.91 a year ago. Order book also marginally softer but hardly worrying – as of Feb 18th the company was 47% forward sold for private completions for 2018, with a total order book value of £1,968 million ex-JVs, £10m softer than last year. The order book of 8,415 homes is a touch lighter than the 8,573 for the same period last year. A bit of caution on the outlook re Brexit etc, but even with the Bank of England set to raise rates, the market still looks very accommodative. The question is whether following the post-Brexit rally, there is any value left in these stocks. Taylor Wimpey shares are up approximately 50% from their post-Brexit low.

While the new build market booms, there are pressing concerns in sectors dependent on people moving home more frequently.

Foxtons final results make for grim reading. Profits are down 65% at £6.5m, from £18.8m in 2016. Sales revenues dropped 23% to £42.6. There was a more resilient performance from Lettings, with revenue of £66.3m down just 3%.

Investors will have to suffer some pain – total dividends have been slashed to 0.7p a share from 2p. Investors may be losing patience and there is a chance that the recent share price weakness, combined with pressure from online competitors, forces consolidation in the sector. The more traditional letting agents must be looking for a way to cut costs in this environment. There is a clear rationale for M&A.

For Foxtons it’s all about how quickly the market in London turns around. There is a clear rationale for saying that the hot flows of capital that flooded London property and pushed up the pound in the years prior to the Brexit vote have cooled and won’t be warming up any time soon. While ultimately this could be positive and create a more sustainable property market in London, investors in Foxtons may have to accept that the rampant price growth in the capital that drove shares in the good times, is a thing of the past.

Meanwhile, after warning in December about weaker trading – its third in quick succession - Safestyle has issued another red flag and a whopper of a profits warning for 2018.

Following the Dec 13th update in which management said they had seen ‘continuing deterioration in the market resulting from declining consumer confidence’, today they say performance so far in 2018 has been disappointing and below expectations

As a result, group revenues and underlying profit before tax for 2018 are now forecast to be ‘materially below 2017 levels and current market expectations’.

This doesn’t change 2017 performance and dividends. With management talking up how the business remains cash generative, with a strong cash position and robust balance sheet, it suggests they are still confident of turning things around.

Only, with chief executive Steve Birmingham offloading 1.4m shares worth £2.2m in December, shortly after that third warning, the overall picture is hardly one that inspires confidence.