One in 14 people struggling to take their second step on the property ladder has been forced to put their plans to start a family on hold, a study has found.
Some 7% of would-be "second steppers" said they have had to delay their plans for children because their current home is too cramped to raise a brood, property search website Rightmove found.
Two in five (40%) second steppers surveyed are concerned that their home is too small for their family.
Rightmove said that with people buying their second home at an average age of 41, the continued tough state of the housing market for this sector is putting significant pressure on people trying to trade up for family reasons.
Three in 10 (29%) people who intend to buy a home in 2013 will be second steppers, which is a 3% increase on similar research carried out three months earlier. Some 11% of second steppers plan to sell their home for a loss on what they originally paid for it, highlighting the pressing need for many people to relocate to somewhere bigger.
Making the situation even tougher, six out of 10 UK regions were described by Rightmove as sales "blackspots" for second steppers, because the proportion of their target market of potential first-time buyers is less than 20%.
Scotland, Wales, East Anglia, the East Midlands, the South West, and Yorkshire and the Humber were all named as blackspots. London was the only region where the first-time buyer market stood at a "healthy" level of more than 40%.
Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, described second steppers as the "ugly ducklings" of the housing market, with many trapped in negative equity, having bought their first home close to the top of the market. Mr Shipside said: "Many second steppers have had to shelve their family planning and home-moving ambitions since the onset of the credit crunch over five years ago. Typical first-time buyer properties such as flats and smaller houses serve a purpose in getting a foot on the housing ladder, but don't tend to be suitable family homes in the long term."
Lenders and estate agents have reported a pick-up in the housing market since the Government launched a Funding for Lending scheme last August, which has prompted a mortgage price war and a flurry of extra deals coming on the market.
However, a separate study into second steppers by Lloyds TSB last week found that more than half (57%) of second steppers do not feel that Government schemes to make it easier for people to buy a property are helping their situation. Three-quarters told the Lloyds survey that they would like to see more support from the Government and 86% want their mortgage lender to give them a bigger helping hand.