The ONS’s Milestones: journeying into adulthood report showed that more than half of first-time buyers in 2017 were 34 or older, compared to 26 in 1997.
The price of property has risen by around 270 per cent over the past 20 years, with most of the increase taking place since the financial crisis of 2008.
In 2007, more than half of first-time buyers were 28 or over, so the age of those getting on the property ladder rose by six years in the past decade.
This reflects increasing living costs and stagnating wages, allied with the increase in house prices and stricter mortgage lending rules which were introduced after the financial crisis exposed reckless lending by several banks.
This was the highest number of first-time buyer mortgages since 2006, when this figure stood at 402,800.
The average age of first-time borrowers in December 2018, however, stood at 30.
The rise in UK house prices has contributed to an increase in the numbers of young people renting property. In 2018, 55% of under-34s were renting, compared to 35% in 1998.
In the same period, the average age when young people leave home rose from 21 to 23.
Sarah Coates, of the centre for ageing and demography at the ONS, said: “Over the past 20 years the UK has seen many societal, economic and demographic changes which will have contributed to the changing milestones into adulthood.
“While recognising everyone’s journey into adulthood is different, these figures show a shift in the timing and occurrence of some of life’s most important moments.”