Going up: construction activity rose sharply in June as lockdown eased.

Cairn Homes, Springfield Properties and Vistry Group were the sector’s top performers in the second quarter with share price gains of 32%, 28% and 23% respectively, according to data collated by Tony Williams, chief executive of adviser Building Value.

Of the 16 top UK housebuilders, only Watkin Jones suffered a fall in share price in Q2, slipping 1.8%. This is despite the developer posting strong half-year results in May, with a 19% rise in pre-tax profit for the six months to the end of March.

Williams put the fall in share price down to the large number of purpose-built student accommodation schemes Watkin Jones develops. “[There] are great fears post-Covid-19 [about PBSA], especially the future of international students coming to the UK,” he said.

June saw the fastest rise in construction activity for nearly two years, following the sharpest fall on record, according to the latest UK Construction Purchasing Managers Index from IHS Markit/CIPS.

However, year on year, listed housebuilders’ share prices painted a more mixed picture.

In the 12 months to 30 June, housebuilders’ share prices fell by an average of 15%. Some fared better than others. Persimmon, Berkeley Group and Countryside Properties saw year-on-year increases of 14%, 11.6% and 10.9% respectively.

However, McCarthy & Stone’s share price crashed 48%, Crest’s fell 44% and Vistry’s slumped 31%.

Share price movements across the rest of the industry were marginally positive in Q2, with offices showing a 3.4% quarter-on-quarter increase on average. However, this figure masked significant differences in performance. While IWG jumped 60%, Helical and Derwent were both down 10%.

Year on year, office specialists are down 30%, listed student accommodation firms are down 34% and retail specialists have seen their price crash by 50%.