Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey said it expects to report a 75 percent jump in annual operating profit after hitting its double-digit margin targets ahead of schedule.

The UK's second largest housebuilder by volume said it would report operating profit for the six months to end-December of 49.1 million pounds, an 80 percent rise year-on-year for the period.

Peers Persimmon
, Barratt and Bovis all reported a similar picture over the past week with rising sales and profits in 2011, thanks to stable pricing and volumes.

A focus on margins is also helping British housebuilders recover their footing after several difficult years, supported by lower land prices, cost-cutting and a shift in product mix from apartments towards houses, which is lifting selling prices.

Taylor Wimpey, which sold its North American business last year, said it expects to achieve its target of double-digit operating margin in the second half of 2011 ahead of schedule, while trading so far this year has been positive.

The first two weeks of trading in 2012 have followed the encouraging patterns of the second half of 2011, with good visitor levels, healthy reservations and low cancellations, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

The prospect for the wider housing market in Britain, however, is more bleak, with the number of first-time buyers plummeting to a record low in 2011.

A lack of mortgage availability is constraining the market, a situation which is not expected to change radically in the short-to-mid term, despite government measures such as a mortgage indemnity scheme, due to be launched in the Spring, and improving affordability.

Taylor Wimpey said home completions rose 2 percent to 10,180 in 2011 while its net debt has narrowed to 120 million pounds, from 654.5 million the previous year.

Shares in Taylor Wimpey closed at 40.75 pence on Monday, valuing the group at approximately 1.2 billion pounds.

(Reporting by Lorraine Turner, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)