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Property Matters: Margins calls

It was therefore predictable that shares in Crest Nicholson (CRST) took a hammering when the housebuilder warned that margins would flatline for at least another year, falling to the lower end of the 18-20 per cent target range and down from 20.4 per cent in the year to October 2017.

But there are two key points to remember. The first is that Crest sells around a third of its houses with an average selling price of more than £600,000 and therefore above the limit applying to the use of Help to Buy. Sales have a greater dependency on the second-hand market, but transactional volume here remains in the doldrums. There is as yet little to suggest that this squeeze on margins will apply to new homes costing a lot less.

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