House price inflation across the UK picked up pace in the year to December, according to a report from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM).
House price inflation picked up in December
The annual rate of house price growth was 2.9% in December, up from a revised 2.2% in the previous month.
The ODPM survey, based on 40,000 completed sales, found that the average house price was £185,788 in December.
House price inflation rose in England and Scotland, but fell back slightly in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Across the UK house price inflation varied sharply.
In London, average prices rose by 3.8% during the year to December, compared with a 2.2% rise in November and 0.5% fall in October.
Prices continued to move upwards in the north west and north east of England and in Scotland.
In Scotland, which had seen a slowdown in November, inflation picked up in the run-up to Christmas, rising from an annual figure of 8.3% to 10.9%.
However, in Wales and Northern Ireland the annual rate of house price inflation slowed sharply.
In Wales, the rate fell from a revised 5.7% to 5.1%, while in Northern Ireland the rate fell from 17.6% to 12.9%.
The findings echo those of commercial surveys, such as the Halifax and Nationwide, which have indicated that the housing market has slowed in areas which enjoyed the strongest growth in the early part of 2005.
However, they contrast with figures last week from the Land Registry which indicated that UK house prices actually fell during the last three months of 2005.