housing market@ (Adds details, quotes)
LONDON, June 13 (Reuters) - British builder Crest Nicholson said the inconclusive outcome of Thursday's election could cause uncertainty in the housing market and called on the government to ensure the free movement of EU citizens as Brexit talks begin.
Crest, which reported a 5 percent rise in first-half pretax profit to 76.2 million pounds ($97 million), saw its share price fall sharply last week, along with its peers, after Prime Minister Theresa May unexpectedly failed to win a majority.
"The outcome of the UK General Election may introduce some uncertainty in the short term but we expect the new build housing market to remain robust," said Chief Executive Stephen Stone.
Crest, which operates in London, southern and eastern England and south Wales, also reported forward sales stood at 540 million pounds by mid-June, 4 percent ahead of last year.
But like many companies in the construction sector, Crest relies on foreign labor, especially on sites in the capital and southern England, with concerns that Brexit could result in strict curbs on immigration.
With policy makers seeking to boost housing supply to tackle a growing crisis which has left many younger people spending up to half of their income on rent and struggling to buy a home, Crest said it was crucial that EU citizens can continue to come to Britain.
"They're critical to any hopes of delivering increased housing supply," Chief Operating Officer Patrick Bergin told Reuters.
"For the time being, we need to ensure that flow of labor continues." ($1 = 0.7896 pounds) (Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Kate Holton and Louise Heavens)