As the graph shows, housebuilding shares fell and rose by almost a third compared with the FTSE 100 last month.

It has been a turbulent ride for investors and August brought gloomy results against a backdrop of mixed macroeconomic news.

There was a spurt on 2 September, when the government announced a package of measures designed to help the sector: Barratt shares rose 5%; Taylor Wimpey’s rose 8%. The surge was shortlived, though, as the package, which included a stamp duty holiday on properties under £175,000, was derided in housebuilding circles as insufficient.

Another mini-rally followed Sunday’s announcement that the US government would prop up mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by taking them into temporary public ownership. Taylor Wimpey, with the most to gain given its exposure to the US market, rose 10% on Monday. It might have been higher had computers at the London stock exchange not crashed for eight hours.

Shares have edged south since and recent predictions from housebuilders about the state of the market don’t inspire much hope for immediate relief.

After all of this, our imaginary £100 stake, bought at the end of February, is now worth £34 in Taylor Wimpey, £39 in Barratt, £67 in Redrow, £85 in Bovis, £86 in Bellway and £59 in Persimmon.