The price of a typical home is now £163,822, according to the building society.
London saw the strongest growth in 2011, with prices rising by 5.5% over the course of the year.
This is the second time in three years that London has topped the regional house price performance table.
Prices in the capital are now just 1.6% below their all time highs, while in the UK as a whole prices are still 10% below their peak.
However Northern Ireland saw house prices fall by 8.7% in 2011 – the average house prices in Northern Ireland ended the year at half the level prevailing at their all time highs in late 2007.
Robert Gardner, chief economist at Nationwide, says: “The 1% rise in house prices recorded over the past twelve months could hardly be described as a strong performance, but against a backdrop of anaemic economic growth and a deteriorating labour market, UK house prices were surprisingly resilient in 2011.”