The number of first-time buyers (FTBs) rose 35% to 409,370 between 2020 and 2021, according to analysis from Halifax.
The average first-time buyer in 2021 was 32 years old and put down a £53,935 deposit on a first property costing £264,140.
Each region across the UK saw a marked rise in the number of new buyers in the market last year.
The biggest increase was in London (49%) and the smallest was in Scotland (24%).
The number of FTBs has more than doubled over the last 10 years in every region except London (82%).
As more buyers entered the market, the average first-time buyer deposit fell 6% for the UK, with only Wales and Scotland noting an increase regionally.
According to Halifax, the average age at which someone buys their first home has risen to 32, up from 29 in 2011 and is now over 30 in every UK region.
The growth of house prices has outstripped that of incomes and the average price to earnings ratio for UK first-time buyers now stands at 6.9x.
Affordability in all but three local authorities was found to have fallen since 2011.
Clackmannanshire and Moray saw the gap between house prices and wages narrow by 5% and 1% respectively, while in East Ayrshire it was flat.
One local authority, Merton, saw the price to earnings ratio more than double (108%), meaning affordability halved, with Reigate and Banstead nearly doubling (97%).
The price of an average FTB home in 2021 was less than four times the average income, considered the limit for affordability, in just 15 local authorities around the UK.
The least affordable local authority for FTBs was the London borough of Brent, where homes are 12.3x average earnings, while the most affordable was Clackmannanshire in Scotland, at 3x.
Esther Dijkstra, mortgage director at Halifax, said: “There were a number of factors influencing home buying decisions in 2021.
“While working from home and the ‘race for space’ was key for many, particularly movers, it’s clear that the stamp duty holiday increased the availability of first-rung homes as others moved up the ladder.
“Lifestyles have changed; over time more people have chosen to go on to higher education, go travelling, or move around for work, which are all factors in the increase in first-time buyer age.
“However, undoubtedly, the biggest drivers are the cost of homes and the need to save a significant deposit to get on the housing ladder.
“In 2021, the increase in average house price to £264,140, combined with difficulties in raising a deposit, meant that the gap between purchase price and deposit widened in every region in the UK.”