Looking at the financial results of U.K.-based Taylor Wimpey is a lot like looking at the sales figures of U.S.-based home building companies two years ago, which makes sense because it took about two years for the housing slowdown to make its way across the Atlantic.
The parent company of U.S.-based Taylor Morrison reported closings were down across its U.K. operations by about 35% in 2008, falling to 13,394 from 20,690 in 2007. Sales prices also declined year-over-year, from £188,000 to £171,000.
Meanwhile, the builder's North American operations, which include Canadian markets that are just now beginning to show some erosion, reported that closings were down more than 19%, from 6,740 houses in 2007 to 5,421 in 2008.
Sales orders in North America stood at 2,789 at the end of the year compared to 3,137 in December 2007, an 11% drop.
"We continue to believe that a material recovery in the U.S. market will take some time to develop," the company's trading statement said. "However, we are hopeful that the actions and proposals of the U.S. government will start to flow through to the market effectively during 2009."
One of Taylor Wimpey's immediate challenges is restructuring its massive debt. The company, created in July 2007 by the merger of George Wimpey and Taylor Woodrow, has $1.55 billion in debt. The company's lenders have agreed to postpone a test of its financials that would likely put the builder into default until the end of March. In the meantime, the company is trying to modify the debt terms.