First time buyers in Northern Ireland trying to get on to the property ladder are having to put down an average deposit of almost £30,000, new analysis has shown.
The figure, for 2020, is a 17% increase on the previous year, but remains some way short of the average £130,000 new buyers need to pay up front to secure a home in London.
The statistics have been released by the Halifax and show just how difficult the housing market is becoming for people seeking to buy a property for the first time.
Northern Ireland is one of the UK regions with the biggest decline in the number of first time buyers throughout 2020.
The Northern Ireland figures show that the average deposit of £25,327 in 2019 rose to £29,523 last year - a rise in money terms of £4,196.
Across the UK the average first-time buyer was required to put down over £10,000 more last year as a deposit than if they had got on the property ladder in 2019, according to analysis.
The average amount put down by a first-time buyer in 2020 was £57,278, compared with £46,449 the year before, marking a 23% increase, or £10,829 in cash terms.
Average deposits for first-time buyers in London were up by £20,211 (18%), from £110,145 to £130,357.
Other areas also saw big increases, with the average first-time buyer deposit growing by 25% (£6,634) in Wales, from £26,029 to £32,663.
Despite many low-deposit mortgages being pulled from the market in 2020, first-time buyers still made up 50% of home purchase loans last year, Halifax estimated, down from 51% in 2019.
The overall number of first-time buyers in 2020 was down by more than 46,000, or 13%, compared with 2019, with an estimated 304,657 first-time buyers in 2020. This was the lowest number since 2015.
Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland were the parts of the UK with the biggest decreases in first-time buyers last year.
According to Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures, average UK house prices jumped to a record high of £250,000 in November and those in London broke through the £500,000 barrier for the first time.
A temporary stamp duty holiday and pent-up demand after the market was put on hold in the early part of 2020 have fuelled demand, though rising prices making life harder for those that are trying to get on the property ladder.
Russell Galley, managing director, Halifax, said: "Whilst these figures confirm the almost inevitable fall in the overall number of first-time buyers in 2020 - with the entire housing market effectively shuttered during the first national lockdown - they also underline just how strong the bounce-back was in the second half of the year.
"Despite the obvious challenges presented by soaring house prices, first-time buyers still accounted for half of all home purchases.
"However, with the economic impact of the pandemic likely to be felt most keenly by the young and those in lower-paid jobs, the need to prioritise improved housing availability and affordability for all those looking to make that first step on to the property ladder becomes ever greater."
North Down and Ards made the top 10 in the most affordable areas for new buyers to invest in.