Almost one-third of Barratt Developments' customers have used a UK government initiative to buy their home, the builder said yesterday as it reported a rise in first-half sales.Strong take-up for the Help to Buy scheme, designed to assist buyers with deposits as low as 5 per cent, helped overall reservations rise 19 per cent to 6,195 in the six months to 31 December.Barratt's forward sales now stand at more than GBP1.2 billion , up 71 per cent on a year ago, and chief executive Mike Clare said average selling prices have risen almost 14 per cent to GBP211,000 .He added: "The Help to Buy scheme continues to have a positive impact on the demand for new homes, in particular providing support to first-time buyers. In the period, 29 per cent of our total completions, excluding joint ventures, utilised the scheme."Barratt is due to publish its first- half results on 27 February, and Richard Hunter , head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown , said the firm was "making hay while the sun shines", having benefited from a strategy of buying cheap land in recent years.However, Hunter said the sector would "inevitably" come under pressure when the Help to Buy mortgage guarantees are withdrawn. The scheme is due to run until 2017, although the Bank of England's financial policy committee could recommend it be closed early.
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