Two-thirds of young people without their own home believe they have no prospect of getting on the property ladder, a survey has suggested.
But 77% of them still aspire to home ownership, the poll of 4,000 non-homeowners for the Halifax found.
An increase in the rental sector could widen the wealth gap between homeowners and non-homeowners, the report concluded.
Higher deposits and tougher lending criteria have put off some buyers.
However, the report for the Halifax, one of the UK's largest mortgage providers, said there was "undue pessimism" among potential first-time buyers who feared having a mortgage application declined.
Some 47% of those surveyed, who did not own their own homes, said they would like to save for a deposit but had no spare cash to do so.
Nearly half of those who described themselves as having a realistic plan to buy within the next three to five years said they were unable to put aside enough for a downpayment.
However, Stephen Noakes, commercial director of Halifax Mortgages, told the BBC that the days of 100% mortgages were over.