It helped over 24,000 first-time buyers during the year, a 9% increase on last year .
Group residential mortgage accounts more than three months in arrears were 0.73%, also slightly down from 0.77% in 2011.
It has maintained its Base Mortgage Rate pledge, which means many borrowers have reverted to a rate capped at 2% above the Bank of England’s 0.5% base rate.
The lender estimates this has cost it £750m so far, meaning each customer has benefited by around £1,000.
The lender also increased its buy-to-let lending to £4.4bn during the year, up from £3bn in 2011.
Overall, Nationwide’s underlying profits rose by 10% to £304m in the year.
Its results were hit by a £103m charge for complaints relating to the mis-selling of PPI. It has seen complaints about PPI quadruple in the last six months.