According to Nationwide, strong house price growth across the whole of the UK pushed the annual rate of house price inflation up to 9.3% in the last quarter of 2006.

This pushes the average price of a house up to £172,065 from £168,035 in Q3. The top three performers were Northern Ireland, with an annual growth of 44.1%, Scotland with 16% and London, where the prices grew by 11.3%, the first double digit growth there for two years. A typical property in the capital is now worth £269,327 ? over 42% higher than the average price in England, and more than 56% higher than the average price in the UK.

The average growth rate for England was 8.1%, and the Nationwide says these figures represent the highest quarterly rate of house price growth for four years.

?Looking forward we expect that UK house price growth will be led by London and the South East where supply issues are most acute,? said Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide?s Group Economist.

?Scotland and Northern Ireland will continue to post strong year-on-year gains but at a much slower rate than in 2006. Overall we expect the housing market to remain firm across the whole of the UK in 2006.?