Almost three fifths (58%) of the UK view homeownership as a top life milestone, according to research collected by Wayhome.

For some, homeownership is viewed as more of a priority than getting married or entering a civil partnership (49%), having a child (48%), or entering into an early retirement (30%).

The desire to own a home has increased by a single percentage point over the past 12 months, as Wayhome’s pre-pandemic research found that 57% of the UK’s renters and homeowners viewed homeownership as the key life goal.

Despite the global pandemic effectively suspending the UK property market for a significant part of last year and house prices continuing to hit record levels – almost half (45%) of 18 to 23 year olds continue to foster strong desires for homeownership.

This desire only intensifies with age with 56% of 24 to 42 year olds and 58% of 43 to 54 year olds viewing getting on the ladder as a key life milestone.

Women (61%) and parents (56%) were also more focused on getting onto the property ladder, compared to men (54%) and those without children (36%) who are less inclined to view ownership as the key life milestone.

However, with the ONS reporting the average property in the UK now costs around £250,341, and buyers likely to spend at least 7.8 times their annual earnings – affordability, not to mention job security concerns, continues to be a significant hurdle for those who want to own their own home.

Nigel Purves, chief executive of Wayhome, said: “It’s clear that the pandemic has done nothing to dampen people’s appetite for homeownership and we know it remains the ultimate life goal for significant numbers of people.

“But the reality is that following on from the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, becoming a homeowner may be far harder than it ever was before.

“Indeed, with house prices ballooning, the cost of living rising and additional government support still in force – great numbers of people have no choice but to continue renting for the foreseeable future or compromising on the type of home they can afford to buy, which might not be suitable for their needs long-term.

“If we want a sustainable housing system, which enables more people to take a step onto the ladder earlier in their lives, we need to see innovation within the industry. Aspiring homeowners deserve the security and stability that comes with homeownership.”