Builder Persimmon
said the number of first-time buyers has risen by over 35 percent since the same period last year, a welcome boost to the industry that has seen first-time buyers frozen out of the market by high-deposit requirements.

The largest UK housebuilder by market value said visitor levels and prices remained firm, while cancellation rates were at historically low levels, echoing comments from peers of a stable market.

Persimmon said weekly private sales rates from the start of September were 19 percent higher than a year ago, and it is fully sold for the year, with 460 million pounds of sales already reserved beyond 2011.

The housing market continues to tread water and housebuilders are facing further uncertainty as public spending cuts and rising unemployment dents confidence, a key factor in people buying new homes.

Persimmon added it is confident of delivering further margin improvement in the second half.

However it said that the average selling price for the full-year will be slightly lower than last year due to the rise in number of first time buyers, aided by the government's FirstBuy shared equity scheme.

Shares in Persimmon closed at 496.3 pence on Monday, valuing the group at around 1.5 billion pounds.

(Reporting by Lorraine Turner; Editing by Adveith Nair)