A HOUSEBUILDER expects property prices to rise after strong sales.

Barratt Developments says sales increased between January 1 and May 4, with forward sales rising by 46.5 per cent to £1.9bn.

The company, founded by North-East property tycoon Sir Lawrie Barratt, said it also benefited from the Government's Help to Buy scheme, with 2,150 reservations using the programme in the period.

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A company statement said: “For the 2014 financial year, we expect to see an increase in total average selling prices driven by a combination of ongoing mix changes and some underlying price improvement.

“With stronger market conditions, we also continue to see ongoing improvements in underlying selling prices in all regions.”

Mark Clare, Barratt Development' group chief executive, added: “The improvements in our operational performance have been embedded in the business and will continue to serve us well in a stronger market.

“Our focus is now on the 2015 financial year, and by June we expect to have secured more than 25 per cent of our private sales, with planning now in place for 98 per cent of total completions.”

Last year, Barratt revealed to The Northern Echo it was looking to create more than 1,000 jobs, including a number of North-East apprentices, graduates and trainees, after recording a five-year sales high.