By Claire West

A 21-year-old Londoner will have to wait on average until the age of 52 before they can afford to get a foot on the property ladder, according to new research published by the National Housing Federation.

The 31-year wait for Londoners _ or seven football World Cups _ highlights the scale of the capital's housing crisis. The Federation, which represents England's housing associations, warned that home ownership was now more of a dream than a reality for most young people.

Nationally, single young adults will finally be given the keys to their own place when they hit 43 - providing they have not had children and have successfully saved up a large proportion of their income over the previous two decades, the study found.

But as younger people increasingly turn to affordable housing as an alternative, funding for new developments, changes to the planning system and funding cuts threaten to lead to a dramatic slump in the supply of new homes for first time buyers.

The Federation commissioned Oxford Economics to forecast how long the average 21-year-old in 2010 would have to wait until they could afford both a deposit of 20% and earn enough money to qualify for a mortgage.

The average first-time buyer property in London is 12 times the average salary for those living in London.

Nationally, men will be able to afford a home at 40 on average, seven years earlier than women - who typically earn less than their male counterparts. This will mean women will have to save for a deposit over a longer period and wait later in life until they earn enough to qualify for a mortgage.

But there's better news for couples who save hard and delay having a family, with those who stay together from the age of 21 being able to afford their own place at 27.

The research assumes buyers have an average credit rating and can therefore borrow 3.75 times their salary, are in full time employment and do not live at home with their parents.

Belinda Porich, head of London region at the Federation, said: "More than 30 years is an awfully long time to wait before you can afford to get your own place. This report highlights how home ownership is increasingly becoming a pipe dream rather than a reality for millions of young people and demonstrates again the scale of the country's housing crisis.

"Affordable housing to both rent and buy has a key role to play in tackling the current housing crisis, but funding cuts could lead to a dramatic slump in the supply of these desperately needed properties.

"If we don't safeguard the building of affordable homes then thousands of younger people will be locked out of the home ownership market for decades or added to waiting lists already at record levels. The report shows how life has dramatically worsened for the 'missing generation'."

The research found the picture for first time buyers is only mildly better in the South West, where single adults will on average get their own place at 48, and in the South East, any house warming parties will have to wait until they reach the not so youthful age of 45.