High levels of student debt mean that the majority of graduates are increasingly sceptical of their chances of getting on the property ladder.
The need to clear debt before saving up for a deposit means that more than a third of those polled by debt consultants Thomas Charles anticipated waiting three years before buying their first home, while a quarter expect it to take up to five.
Moreover, a quarter say they cannot conceive of buying property for the foreseeable future, with six in ten blaming the difficulties of clearing debts first.
“For many, the idea of getting on the property ladder seems a distant prospect and for a quarter it seems impossible,” said Thomas Charles director James Falla.
Figures show that just one in ten alumni that graduated since 2001 now own their own home.
Just one in three students surveyed had managed to avoid debt during university. For the rest, six in ten have to clear debt of more than Â£10,000, while one in ten owe more than Â£20,000.
Debt resolution experts ClearDebt believe that the outlook for seriously over-indebted college leavers is considerably less rosy than even this survey indicates.
ClearDebt chief executive, David Mond, said: “Forget saving for a house, those ex-students who are most seriously in debt have little or no credit left to deal with expensive life-changes like redundancy, relationship splits or starting a family.
“Almost no-one plans for these events and those who owe more than one and a half times their annual take-home pay are likely to find they can’t cope if something unexpected strikes.”