Three in five people aiming to take their second step on the property ladder over the past year have found themselves stuck on the first rung, research has suggested.
Three-quarters of struggling "second steppers" would like to see more support from the Government and 86% want their mortgage lender to give them a bigger helping hand, the report for Lloyds TSB found.
More than half (57%) of second steppers surveyed, many of whom bought their first home at the top of the market and are now stuck in negative equity, do not feel that Government schemes to make it easier for people to buy a property are helping their situation. The majority (53%) of second steppers said that market conditions have not improved for them over the past year, the UK-wide study found.
There were some regional variations, with 42% of second steppers in London, where prices have tended to rise more strongly than the rest of the country, believing that the market has improved for them, compared with just 13% of people in Wales. Seven out of 10 second steppers in Wales believe the market has either remained the same or deteriorated, which was the highest percentage recorded on a regional level.
Across the UK, the level of deposit required was still seen as the biggest challenge to second steppers being able to get a mortgage and move up the ladder, with two-thirds of those surveyed citing this as a problem. A lack of affordable housing to move into and moving costs including stamp duty were also given as main hurdles. Around 500 would-be second steppers were interviewed in January for the study.
The findings show that many people are still struggling to move up the property ladder despite schemes such as Funding for Lending, which was launched last August and has prompted the number of mortgages on the market to increase and lenders to slash their rates.
More than 3,000 homes have also been reserved under a scheme called NewBuy, which was launched last spring and helps people to buy a new-build home with a 5% deposit under an agreement by builders, lenders and the Government.
Stephen Noakes, mortgage director of Lloyds TSB, said: "If second steppers get stuck on the first rung, movement at the bottom half of the ladder comes to a standstill, and this bottleneck will not only restrict the supply of starter properties but will have a knock on effect across the whole of the housing market."
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "The NewBuy scheme is the first of its kind not to restrict help only to first time buyers, but to give second steppers the support to move up the chain and buy a newly-built home with just a fraction of the deposit that they would normally require. More than 3,000 reservations have been made to date."
The spokesman added: "But one of the most important things we're doing for all homeowners is tackling the inherited deficit to prevent the need for rapid rises in interest rates. This has kept mortgage payments as a proportion of income at a record low and relieved pressure on hard-working families."