Everyone involved in the housebuilding industry continues to experience very challenging market conditions for a variety of reasons, primarily the restricted availability of mortgage finance, but there has been some evidence of slight improvements in the past quarter.

Using data from www.careersinhousebuilding.co.uk and http://www.zed-sales.co.uk/ supported by evidence from our extensive network of housebuilding professionals, we have observed the following trends:

The most encouraging trend in the recruitment market is the increase in advertising for site based roles. E.g. Sales, Site Management and to a lesser extent Quantity Surveyors.  There is evidence of this on www.careersinhousebuilding.co.uk

This reflects an increase in the number of new sites and overall production from builders of all sizes.

There is little evidence that builders are moving away from the lean approach to regional and head office staffing which many adopted at the beginning of the recession.

Recruitment at Manager and Director level appears to be mainly replacements rather than an increase in head count.

The strongest area of temporary recruitment in the housebuilding market is for site based sales staff as builders seek to utilize the availability of experienced Sales staff to cover holidays, new sites and increased visitors to site.  There are examples of such jobs here: http://www.zed-sales.co.uk/?cat=7

Most builders appear reluctant to employ head office or non-sales site based staff on an interim or contract basis, preferring to wait until they can justify recruiting a permanent member of staff.  This is in contrast to other industries where the temporary market is busy due to the need for flexible resource in areas like IT, finance, construction and sales.

Suppliers to the housing market (particularly building materials) have increased their advertising in 2011 signalling their optimism that this year will be one of recovery for the industry.

Senior management within the housebuilders have told us that they expect the 2011 market to be relatively flat with no significant improvement before 2012 or in some views 2013.

The restricted availability of mortgage finance remains the major factor in the challenging market conditions.

Budgets remain very tight for most organisations in the sector.  From a recruitment perspective builders remain keen to avoid paying fees if it all possible.  We built our model for www.careersinhousebuilding.co.uk around the need for builders to have a quick, inexpensive online advertising resource solely dedicated to the industry.

Past seasonal trends were bucked in 2010. For example several builders we work with experienced stronger sales in August and December 2010 than the autumn which is usually viewed as a busier period.

Many builders are now actively seeking new sites as their land banks dwindle, but land values are increasingly volatile in an uncertain marketplace.

Whilst some of the larger builders have restructured their debt and are in a much healthier state as a result, there remain some smaller builders that are reliant on the banks view that they are of more value as going concern for their continued existence.

Larger housebuilders have completed significant restructuring to allow them to be profitable operating with much lower production volumes.

What do you think will happen in the industry this year?  Here are some of the discussion points that we are investigating at present:

Would an interest rate rise kick start the market? Historical trends suggest it may do.

Regional variations. Is the South East fairing better? Will there be a ripple effect further north?

The mortgage guarantee schemes recently launched by Barratt and Taylor Wimpey. Could they be the answer to lack of finance to first time buyers?

What do you think of the points raised here?  Are they consistent with your experience?  Why not comment here http://www.edburydaley.com/wp/2011/02/24/housebuilding-market-update-q1-2011/