HOUSE prices rose unexpectedly across the UK in January.

Prices soared 3.2 per cent, compared to 2.6 per cent at the end of 2016.

The research from lender Nationwide also shows prices increased by 0.6 per cent month on month, taking the average price of a UK home to £211,756.

“The acceleration in annual house price growth is a little surprising, given signs of softening in the household sector in recent months,” said Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist.

He added that the impact of Brexit will massively affect house prices in the coming year.

“How the housing market performs in the year ahead will be determined in large part by developments in the wider economy,” he said.

“Brexit developments will remain important.”

Reacting to the figures, Russell Quirk, chief executive of online property platform Emoov, said that overall supply will be key to prices this year, along with an ageing population.

He said: “While we remain a nation of aspirational home buyers and the level of those owning their own home has remained fairly robust over the years, their ageing population and the continued increase of the private rentals sector highlights a broken market, working against, and not for first time buyers in particular.

“The outlook for the economy is modest and both interest rates and unemployment are expected to remain low, but with as many sellers currently sitting on the fence as buyers, the severe lack of housing stock available for those looking to get on the ladder has been further exacerbated.”