Taylor Wimpey highlighted the better conditions in the housing market today as it prepares to announce annual profits at the top end of expectations.

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As well as the anticipated 40pc rise in operating profits for 2012, Wimpey said consumer sentiment over the first two weeks of 2013 had been the most positive it had seen in recent times.

It added: "Clearly it is too early to judge the market for the year, but we maintain a positive, although cautious view in the short term."

The group, which teetered on the brink of collapse in 2009 due to its massive debts, said it had been helped by a number of major lenders reducing their mortgage rates due to the Bank of England's Funding for Lending scheme.

Wimpey has also supported first-time buyers with the purchase of 1,203 homes under the government's FirstBuy scheme, as well as a further 546 homes under initiatives designed to help those with smaller deposits.

The company reported a "substantial" order book at the start of 2013, with the increase in value to £948 million representing 5,966 homes.

It completed the final stage of its financial overhaul in 2011 when it sold its North American division, leaving it to focus on a UK business that sold 10,866 homes at an average price of £181,000 during last year.

The recovery in its trading performance was also highlighted in its UK operating margin, which is now in double-digits compared with 8.8% in 2011. The company is due to announce its results for 2012 on March 1.

Chief executive Pete Redfern said: "As we look forward to 2013, we are confident that we will continue to deliver against our key objectives and target further improvement."

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