Research by insurance firm Genworth found the shortfall of first-time buyers in the South East is enough to fill the city of Brighton while in the North West it would take a town the size of St Helens to cope.
In the South East an average of 86,733 first-time buyers bought a home each year between 1974 and 2006. But since then this figure has plummeted to 47,863 a year.
This has created a shortfall of 310,967. This is more than any other region and more than the entire 281,100 population of Brighton and Hove.
In the North West the shortfall of 180,685 first-time buyers is bigger than the whole population of St Helens (177,200).
The North East has been hardest hit by the recession with buyer levels down 48% from 23,191 to 10,575 a year.
Simon Crone, vice president for mortgage insurance at Genworth, said mortgage lenders had shied away from first-time buyers since the financial crash.
“Tougher regulation and higher capital requirements for lenders as a result of the recession have accelerated the fall in homeownership and dramatically reduced the number of people – especially younger households – who are able to buy their first home,” he said.
“A dual crisis has emerged with the shortage of new homes exacerbated by a shortage of loans traditionally used to help first time buyers get on the property ladder with 5% or 10% deposits.
“Our analysis shows that all regions have felt the impact of the squeeze on first time buyers, regardless of the so-called ‘North/South’ divide. While London and the South East face the biggest pressure of high house prices, a lack of housing supply nationwide and limited access to first-time buyer mortgages has left many regions with years’ worth of ‘missing’ owner-occupiers.”