UK house prices rose by 7.9% in the year to January 2016, up from 6.7% in the year to December 2015, according to the Office for National Statistics.
It said that house price annual inflation was 8.6% in England, -0.3% in Wales, 0.1% in Scotland and 0.8% in Northern Ireland.
Annual house price increases in England were boosted by an annual increase in the South East (11.7%), London (10.8%) and the East (9.8%).
When London and the South East are excluded from the figures, UK house prices increased by 5.1% in the 12 months to January 2016.
In January 2016, prices paid by first-time buyers were 7.7% higher on average than in January 2015, while for existing owners, prices increased by 8.0% for the same period.
The average house price across the UK in January 2016 was £292,000.
Jonathan Hopper, managing director of Garrington Property Finders, said there was a huge divide in the property market: “Seldom has the gulf between Britain’s two-speed property market been so stark.
“The white heat of the London market has radiated out to include not just South East England but also East Anglia. Together these three regions now form a holy trinity of confidence, and a halo of double-digit price growth that stubbornly refuses to slip.
“Average prices in all three areas hit record levels in January, while in the rest of England and Wales prices dipped.
“Britain’s property market isn’t so much two-speed as heading in opposite directions.”