British house price growth quickened by more than expected in December to hit an eight-month high, according to a new survey, another sign of growing momentum in the housing market. 

UK mortgage lender Nationwide said house prices rose 0.8% in December, the strongest monthly increase since April and compared with a 0.1% increase in November. 

Economists polled by Reuters had expected growth of 0.5% this month. UK house prices rose 4.5% year-on-year, up from a 3.7% annual increase in November.

The average price of a British house now stands at £196,999, Nationwide said.
 

"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% in the second quarter of next year. 

House prices are likely to rise between 3-6% over the next 12 months, Gardner added.

London again topped the table for UK house price growth in 2015, with a home costing 12.2% more in the fourth quarter than a year earlier.