Almost half of Brits (43%) who currently rent or live at home expect they will never own their own property, according to research from the Halifax.
The research also found that 29% of renters believe it is now normal for people to do so for life.
Younger generations appear to be more optimistic generally with more than half (57%) of 18-24 year olds believing they will one day buy a property.
This figure falls to 28% amongst 35 to 44 year olds.
This research comes as first-time buyers reportedly accounted for 51% of the UK’s mortgage market last year.
Mortgage affordability is seen as a significant barrier by two thirds of people, with a similar proportion (64%) highlighting that saving a deposit is a big challenge.
Of those who believe they will one day buy, a third (35%) say they plan to use the Help to Buy scheme to get onto the housing ladder.
Only 6% expect to buy through a shared ownership scheme.
More than a quarter (28%) expect financial support from their family to purchase a property, with almost half (45%) expecting they will only be able to buy with a partner.
Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said: “Taking that first step onto the property ladder remains a rite of passage for many.
“The financial hurdle of saving enough for a deposit might feel like a daunting or at times near-impossible task, but there are a number of options out there, including government schemes and family support mortgages, to help put first-time buyers on the right track.
“Last year, first-time buyers accounted for the majority of the mortgage market for the first time in well over 20 years.
“This shows that with the right support and a few sacrifices, home ownership can remain an attainable goal.”