Persimmon showed no sign of loosening its grip as the UK's largest housebuilder after revealing a seven per cent rise in like-for-like sales.
The group added that total revenues hit £2.4 billion in the first six months of the year - compared with £1.78 billion a year earlier - after it completed the acquisition of rival Westbury in January.
York-based Persimmon said it had been "another success-ful period" for the company and added that the housing market continued to be "active".
In a trading update, Persimmon said it completed the sale of 8,000 units in the six months, an improvement on the 5,954 seen in 2005 after the addition of Westbury, which cost the company £643 million. Average selling prices were also up in line with expectations - from £183,581 to £188,000 - while Persimmon forecast a modest pick-up in build costs.
The company added that margins had been affected by the Westbury acquisition, but it pointed out that it expected an improvement over coming months.
As a result Persimmon has looked to reduce the "relatively high" levels of work in progress at Westbury, including by targeting the sale of stock units and reducing the number of part exchange properties.
The company said: "We have made good progress during the period and are in a strong position to move forward.
"The housing market continues to be active and is operating at a satisfactory level which provides us with the opportunity to develop further our business."
Persimmon chief executive Mike Farley said: "New housing prices in the UK are expected to rise around three to four per cent but our average selling prices would be up around five per cent and build costs are under control and set to rise about three to four per cent."
Bridgewell Securities said in a note: "The update is strong and confirms that the housing market is operating at a satisfactory level and the integration of Westbury is going well."
Persimmon said gearing would be around 55 per cent at June 30, down from 80 per cent immediately following the Westbury acquisition.
"Debt levels have been reduced in advance of our plans, we now have the appropriate level of work in progress and land investment, and with our healthy forward order book are on track to deliver further growth during 2006 in line with existing expectations," the company stated.
The group currently has a landbank of 78,000 plots.
The acquisition of Westbury Homes has boosted turnover at Persimmon's South Midlands region, based in Studley.
Managing director John Lougher, who was formerly Westbury's Central region MD, said: "The combination of existing Persimmon sites and sites transferred from West-bury gives South Midlands a strong land bank for the coming years.
"With competition for good sites as fierce as ever and the planning process as complicated as ever, this give us a distinct advantage. We are planning to increase our volumes by two thirds to 700 units annually from 2008 onwards and we already have virtually all the land we need in place to achieve this goal."
New developments are starting this year in Alvechurch, Bromsgrove, Cheltenham, Cleobury Mortimer, Coventry, Gloucester, Malvern, Redditch, Warwick and Worcester.
Persimmon Homes West Midlands is based in Wolverhampton. Developments in the region also include the Cape Hill brewery site in Smethwick which will see almost 1,000 new homes. Shares closed down 9p at 1200p.