UPDATE 1-Homebuilder Bellway expects higher sales completions on new home demand

(Adds company comment, background on sector)

March 24 (Reuters) - British housebuilder Bellway said on Wednesday it is witnessing strong underlying demand for new homes and expects an about 33% jump in annual sales completions, as the sector stands to benefit from incentives announced in the budget.

Top UK homebuilders had pointed to a resilient 2021, even before Britain extended tax breaks for home-buyers until October and unveiled a government-funded mortgage guarantee scheme, as people hunt for larger homes suitable for remote working in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Bellway is also hopeful that the government’s new mortgage guarantee scheme will lead to the return of competitive, long-term, higher loan-to-value mortgages for both the new build sector and the wider market,” the company said in a statement.

The Newcastle-based firm said its forward order book as on March 14 stands at 1.64 billion pounds ($2.24 billion), 8.4% higher than a year earlier, adding that it expected to complete sale of around 10,000 homes by the end of this financial year.

Last week, property website Rightmove Plc said growth in asking prices for homes in Britain was accelerating even before Finance Minister Rishi Sunak had announced new measures to bolster the market.

The company, which builds everything from one-bedroom apartments to six-bedroom family homes and luxury penthouses, reported a 4% fall in pre-tax profit at 280.2 million pounds for six months to Jan. 31.

The FTSE 250 firm reinstated interim dividend, with a 35 pence per share payout.

Bellway also said it has earmarked an additional 20.3 million pounds towards fire safety measures.

$1 = 0.7310 pounds Reporting by Aby Jose Koilparambil in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich