LONDON (Reuters) - British house price growth quickened by more than expected in December to hit an eight-month high, according to a survey on Wednesday, another sign of growing momentum in the housing market.
Mortgage lender Nationwide said house prices rose 0.8 percent in December, the strongest monthly increase since April and compared with a 0.1 percent increase in November.
Economists polled by Reuters had expected growth of 0.5 percent this month.
House prices rose 4.5 percent year-on-year, up from a 3.7 percent annual increase in November.
“As we look ahead to 2016, the risks are skewed towards a modest acceleration in house price growth, at least at the national level, despite the likelihood of interest rate increases from the middle of next year,” Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner said.
Economists polled by Reuters expect the Bank of England will raise interest rates from their record low 0.5 percent in the second quarter of next year.
House prices are likely to rise between 3 and 6 percent over the next 12 months, Gardner added.
London again topped the table for house price growth in 2015, with a home costing 12.2 percent more in the fourth quarter than a year earlier.
The average price of a British house now stands at 196,999 pounds ($292,070), Nationwide said.
($1 = 0.6745 pounds)
Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Catherine Evans
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