Shares in Taylor Wimpey edged higher early on Thursday (28 April), after the housebuilder reported it traded in line with expectations, despite the uncertainty surrounding the upcoming referendum on Britain's European Union membership.
A number of estate agents, including Foxtons, Savills and Countrywide, have warned that the UK property market could suffer a significant slowdown in the weeks leading up to the referendum and in the months following the vote. Analysts at Credit Suisse said a vote to leave the EU would lead to a weakening in prices, before leading to a "fall in housing demand due to reduced immigration and UK status as a financial hub".
However, in a trading update, Taylor Wimpey said trading had not suffered from the upcoming referendum, adding it was well placed to deal with the fallout from the vote. "The uncertainty surrounding the European Union (EU) referendum has not impacted trading to date, and underlying demand remains solid across all of our geographies," the FTSE 100 group said.
The London-listed company added it was "well equipped to react to any potential changes in the market that may be caused by the EU referendum", given its supply chain is "based principally in the UK".
In the period between 1 January and 28 April, the housebuilder said its order book grew 7.5% year-on-year to 8,811, while its total value rose 16.6% to £2.2bn.
However, economists have warned that despite the positive figures and the optimism surrounding the future outlook, Britain's third-biggest housebuilder could suffer from 'Leave' vote. "A leave vote carries greatest risk for commercial real estate companies with significant exposure to the London market and house builders such as Taylor Wimpey which has circa 30% of its current building projects in London or surrounding areas," ratings agency Standard & Poor's said.
Meanwhile, the company said it plans to pay a final dividend of 1.18p a share in May, up from 1.32 in May 2015, and a special dividend of 9.2p a share in July compared with a 7.68p dividend in the corresponding period 12 months ago.