Bovis Homes has all but stopped the building of new houses and will sell down finished and part-completed stocks before it starts investing again, after being hit by the sharp decline in the UK housing market.

The house builder, which sold 2,900 homes at the peak of the market in 2007, said the figure fell to 1,800 last year while the number of homes reserved for sale at the start of March was nearly 40% lower than the same period in 2008.

'We’ve gone into this year building effectively nothing,' said Neil Cooper, finance director.

The company said it had fallen from a £124m pre-tax profit to a £79m loss over the course of the year, while revenue was cut in half from £556m to £282m.

The fall in profit was driven by a £75m land write down as Bovis’s property assets declined in value and the write-off of £10m of goodwill associated with Elite Homes, a north of England builder that Bovis purchased for £26m in 2007.

Financial Times, The Times, Daily Telegraph