FIRST time buyers will have to save for 17 years for a deposit to buy a home in Oxford, new figures have revealed.

Research by property experts has found would-be home-owners will spend £115,000 in rent in the time it takes to save a 15 per cent deposit.

It makes Oxford the most difficult place to buy a first home, from 50 towns and cities analysed by the website Compare My Move.

And estate agents in the city say the average age of first time buyers they see is steadily climbing.

The figure will make depressing reading for many youngsters, with someone starting to save at the age of 23 not accruing enough for the the estimated £53,000 deposit until they are 40.

In contrast, in neighbouring Swindon, it would take just six years to save for a deposit - which is half the size - and in parts of the north, including Burnley and Hull, it would take just two.

Christ Church student Rachel Cross said the news would seriously influence her decisions about whether to stay in the city after graduation.

The 22-year-old, who is currently living in Oxford, said: "Oxford is a beautiful place and I have built up a lot of networks here.

"In an ideal world I would want to stay but these prices are going to be a big factor in my decision.

"In London you get paid a bit more because it is expensive but Oxford does not have anything like that.

"It is gutting. For my parents' generation they found it relatively easy to buy their first home and it is something I have always wanted to do.

"17 years of cutting back and trying to save is not very appealing but then again renting is not a long term solution either."

The research looked at average regional wages for 22 to 29 year olds and factored in living costs and average rent prices to work out the time need to save for a house.

Compare My Move has pointed out that access to Government schemes including Help to Buy, which helps buyers pay smaller deposits, could shave years of the time it takes to save.

Richard Chamberlain, of Chamberlain Evans Estate Agents in Iffley Road, said the average age of first time buyers had changed in the last decade from the 25-30 bracket to the 30-35 bracket.

He said: "It is very difficult to buy a home without some outside help.

"Oxford is a small city, the property stock is not great and there's lots of competition.

"For a long time first time buyers have been competing with buy-to-let investors for a very limited supply.

"Houses have been taken off the market and never come back again because they are constantly let out.

"This is changing with recent Government tax changes but buying a house to rent out is still seen as a good investment for a lot of wealthier people."

Fellow estate agent Rowan Waller, who runs Wallers Estate Agents in Rose Hill, said current prices needed to half before they are truly affordable.

He said: "People say I have a vested interest in keeping prices high but honestly my only vested interest is ensuring my two daughters can afford to live in the city they were born in when they grow up.

"I'm not from Oxford originally and I'm still shocked at the prices here compared to the rest of the country. I feel for first time buyers, I really do.

"We are a long way away from solving this problem.

"You can't restrict prices on existing homes because no one would sell.

"So the only solution is to build more but then you have to control the prices.

"If it's left to the market then it will always be unaffordable so there needs to be intervention from an independent authority.

"Our market is propped up by the fact that there are a lot of good jobs here that attract reasonable salaries.

"But for anyone else - whether you are in the service sector, a key worker or at the council - then you are stuck with a massive gap in terms of what you can afford."

Bob Colenutt, who set up a group called Affordable Oxford three years ago and is now chair of the Community Land Trust, said there needed to be radical changes to stop young people leaving the city.

The group are trying to acquire land to build their own affordable housing scheme but keep being out-bid by developers.

He said: "It's proved pretty much impossible. The more we have to pay for the land, the less affordable the houses would be to rent so we're reliant on someone gifting it to us.

"It's a challenge but we're hoping to secure somewhere soon. It's taken so much effort and we need so many more schemes like this to make a difference."