Property Funds World: LSL reports increase in activity levels
Fri 17 May 2013
LSL, a provider of residential property services, has reported increases in activity levels, indicating that market transaction volumes are improving.These tentative signs of recovery are supported by key lender activity and renewed consumer confidence. Inaddition, a further boost is expected from the Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee Scheme in January 2014. Overall, the board is cautiously optimistic that the recent increase in front-end activity levels will result in a sustained improvement in market volumes from the second quarter of 2013.
The board had previously planned for a flat market in 2013 and to accelerate investment to increase market share in estate agency as well as increase the rate of new branch openings in Marsh & Parsons. This plan is now being augmented to incorporate further investment across both surveying and estate agency to build capacity alongside market improvement. The board is confident of delivering progress in line with our expectations for 2013, with profits being more weighted to the second half of the year.
The business is highly cash generative and has relatively low levels of financial gearing. Overall, LSL is well placed to combine organic growth initiatives, further value-accretive acquisitions and exposure to possible market upside to increase shareholder value in the medium term. LSL group chief executive Simon Embley says: Activity levels were constrained in line with the market during the first quarter but have since picked up considerably with underlying group revenue in the post Easter period up seven per cent year on year. The group is well positioned to benefit from its significant operational gearing if market volumes continue to improve. Transaction volumes in the first quarter reflect the strong prior year comparatives caused by the ending of the stamp duty holiday in March 2012 and by the timing of Easter. The number of total mortgage approvals for the three months to 31 March 2013 was 10.9 per cent lower than the first quarter of 2012. House purchase approvals were 2.2 per cent lower on the same comparative basis. Market data is not yet available for April. Against this backdrop the group has traded well relative to the market and a strong comparative period.