UK house prices increased by 6.8% in January 2014 compared with a year earlier, up from 5.5% in December 2013, the Office for National Statistics has reported.
House prices grew by 7.1% in England, 6.9% in Wales, 1.4% in Scotland and 2.7% in Northern Ireland.
The ONS said that house price growth is increasing strongly across some parts of the UK, with prices in London again showing the highest growth.
Annual house price increases in England were driven by rises in London (13.2%), the South East (7.1%) and the West Midlands (5.3%).
Excluding London and the South East, UK house prices increased by 3.8% in the 12 months to January 2014. On a seasonally adjusted basis, average house prices increased by 0.6% between December 2013 and January 2014.
In January 2014, prices paid by first-time buyers were 7.6% higher on average than in January 2013. For owner-occupiers (existing owners), prices increased by 6.5% for the same period.
Richard Sexton, director of e.surv chartered surveyors, said: “The housing market is sparking with energy. Prices have increased in every region of the UK ignited by a renewed confidence in the economy. Buyers are taking advantage of low rates on offer to get on the housing ladder. And more buyers are choosing to buy now in anticipation of further price rises in the imminent future.
“Help to Buy is propelling many people who would have been left renting onto the housing ladder, meaning first-time buyers are at the forefront of the recovery. It has allowed more lending to borrowers with smaller deposits and this has eased the struggle to save while interest rates – and wages – remain low. High LTV lending still has some ground to make up; it is still a quarter behind what it was in 2008. But the extension of Help to Buy 1 announced in the Budget will see first-time buyers supported until the end of the decade.
“If this comes hand-in-hand with more home-building, the number of first-time buyers will continue climbing for the foreseeable future.”