The boss of Britain's biggest housebuilder expects an upturn in sales later this year after 12 months of sluggish demand.
Persimmon chief executive John White spoke out yesterday as the group shook off gloomy reports about the health of the property market by reporting a large uplift in the price of its homes.
The housebuilder said selling prices since the start of January were 7.6 per cent higher than a year ago and its interim profits should beat the £220.3 million of last year.
And Mr White said: "We'd expect to see an upturn in the autumn again.
"We would expect to see our volumes increasing through September, October and November.
"I think in line with traditional patterns but probably better than last year when it didn't tick up."
A series of interest rate rises brought the booming market to a halt in mid-2004.
But Persimmon said yesterday it expected pretax profit for the first half to be above that of a year ago, despite the slowdown.
It added that margins had been maintained at last year's 23.6 per cent level despite offering more incentives and seeing costs increase.
Mr White said the company's profitability had been preserved by operating in areas such as South-west England and Scotland where market conditions were more buoyant than in the South-east.
"Persimmon's strength is very much its geographical spread.
"We have a good number of regions where the market is behaving pretty well. What we're certainly not seeing is any sign of price crashes."
Mike Farley, chief executive of the Southern Division which includes the Midlands, said the market in the area had been competitive but reasonable.
He said: "We're providing new homes for first or second time buyers and if they're properly priced they are selling."
In the first time buyer market he said Persimmon was selling some properties for below £100,000 in the region.
Persimmon, whose core offering consists of relatively small traditional three or four bedroom houses, increased its sales outlets by 15 per cent compared to a year ago.
The average cost of a Persimmon property in the first half of 2005 was £184,000 - up from £171,082 a year ago.
Contracts have been exchanged or arranged on around 6,000 homes since the start of the year, matching the 6,058 legal completions at the same stage of 2004.
Shares in Persimmon homes closed last night down 3.5p at 743.5p.