The figures provide further proof that the temporary abolition of stamp duty on transactions up to pounds 250,000 - which ended on 19 August - did little to stimulate the market.
After a flurry of activity in the spring, prices continued to drift. They fell by 0.2 per cent between July and August. Over the 12 months to August they fell 5.2 per cent. The average house price in the United Kingdom is pounds 55,328, against pounds 58,337 in August 1991.
Tim Melville-Ross, chief executive of the Nationwide, said: 'While this is the third month in a row that we have seen a marginal fall in prices, there has in fact been very little change in prices over the year so far, with the average price now only pounds 676, or 1.2 per cent, less than the average in January.
'Clearly the general state of the economy has dampened confidence and this is continuing to affect the housing market. Current interest-rate uncertainty and the reintroduction of stamp duty may, to a limited extent, act as a further brake on the market in the short term.'