The number of homes sold to first time buyers dropped to its lowest level in nearly three years during October, according to estate agents.
The latest data from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) revealed just 16% of house sales made last month went to first time buyers, compared with 22% in September.
It is the largest fall recorded by the NAEA since December 2008, when first time buyers made up just 10% of the market share.
The association said the drop reflected the increasing struggles facing first time buyers, particularly when it comes to raising a deposit.
"While mortgage lending has reportedly improved over the course of this year, these figures suggest that there is still a lending barrier facing those entering the housing market for the first time, and that banks may require stronger incentives from the Government to offer mortgage finance to first time buyers," the NAEA added.
Elsewhere amongst the data, it was revealed that the number of house hunters registering with agents fell slightly during the month, with economic uncertainty both in the UK as well as in the Eurozone thought to be putting potential buyers off.
Despite the drop in demand, the number of properties for sale and the actual number sold remained steady.
However, with the traditional Christmas and New Year lull on the horizon, agents suggested such levels are unlikely to be maintained in the coming months.
While welcoming the Government's housing strategy plans announced earlier this week, NAEA president Wendy Evans-Scott said there are still challenges to be overcome, particularly with regards to first time buyers.
"To address this Government could ensure that banks are given clearer incentives to offer mortgage finance to the UK's embattled first time buyers, and also extend the mortgage guarantee for first time buyers announced this week beyond just new build homes," she added.
Earlier this week, the Building Societies Association called for the stamp duty holiday for first time buyers purchasing properties up to the value of £250,000 to be extended beyond 24 March 2012, when it is currently due to come to an end.
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