First-time buyers are taking longer to save enough cash to put a deposit on a home, according to National Savings & Investments (NS&I).
First-time buyers require an average deposit of £7,652
A typical first-time buyer now takes on average four years and nine months to save a 5% deposit for a property.
Last year, it took first-time buyers four and half years to save a deposit.
Overall, the average size of a deposit rose to £7,653 in the July to September quarter, a rise of £465 on the same period last year.
TIME TAKEN TO SAVE A DEPOSIT
East of England - 5 years
London - 4 years 9 months
Wales - 4 years 6 months
Scotland - 4 years 6 months
West Midlands - 4 years 6 months
North East - 4 years 6 months
North West 4 years 6 month
South East - 4 years 6 months
South West - 4 years 6 months
East Midlands - 4 years 3 months
Yorkshire - 4 years 3 months
Northern Ireland - 4 years
Source: National Savings & Investments
However, this rise was less than half the increase seen between the first three months of 2004 and the same period of 2005.
People in the north of England and Scotland are now taking as long to fund a deposit as buyers in the south east and south west of England, NS&I said.
This reflects the fact that over the past year house prices have increased far quicker in the north of England and Scotland than London and the south east of England.
First-time buyers in Scotland have had a struggle on their hands over the past year, as a buoyant housing market has increased the average time it takes to save a deposit by 12 months to four years and six months.
But in seven out 12 UK regions - mostly in the south - the amount of time it takes for buyers to build up a deposit has not increased.
"It is concerning to see that it now takes all UK first-time buyers over four years to save for a deposit for their first home," Dax Harkins, senior savings strategist at NS&I, said.
"With incomes and savings rates continuing to lag behind house price inflation, this means that potential first-time buyers need to start saving sooner and harder to get into the market," he added.
NS&I's research was based on information about house prices and incomes issued by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and assumed that first-time buyers need a 5% deposit to buy property.