Residential developer Stockland has recorded an almost 70% fall in its annual net profit, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

The company’s statutory profit fell from $1bn to $311m.

Tighter consumer spending and weakened sales pressured the company amid the biggest downturn in a generation.

Stockland remained cautious about the pace of recovery, despite improvements in buyer confidence in property auctions, with some capital cities recording their highest initial clearance rates in more than two years.

“We are clear that the housing market has bottomed, but we are cautious about the pace of recovery, particularly as it relates to lending availability,” said the company’s chief executive Mark Steinert.

The company expects flat growth in funds from operations per security in 2020. It declared a distribution per security of 27.6 cents per share, with expected distribution payouts at a 75%-85% target ratio.

The company also announced the exchange of contracts to sell its 50% claim in 135 King Street and Glasshouse in Sydney for $340m and to acquire the remaining 50% state in the Piccadilly Centre from Oxford Properties for $347m.