Purchasing your first home can be a major step in life, but an increasing number of young buyers are opting to delay that step until later. If your immediate assumption is that the mortgage market is keeping more professionals from buying a house, you could be overlooking a key step in the process: the down payment.
Depending on which state you call home, that down payment can represent a big obstacle to home ownership, according to the results of a study by GOBankingRates.
The study looked at median home prices and median incomes for the 25-44 age group in each state to get a sense of how long it would take to save up the suggested down payment of 20 percent of the home's selling price, based on the 50-30-20 budgeting rule where you save 20 percent of your income each year.
The resulting data revealed that in 16 states it would take more than five years to sock away the cash necessary to make a down payment.
Median home price: $239,000
Down payment needed: $47,800
How long it takes to save: Five years, 1.2 months
Although South Carolina's median home price isn't unreasonably high, the median annual income for millennials of $46,898 — the lowest of the 16 states on this list — delays the time it takes to buy a house.
Median home price: $250,000
Down payment needed: $50,000
How long it takes to save: Five years, 2.2 months
Just across the border in North Carolina, circumstances are very similar to those of its neighbor to the south. With an even $50,000 necessary for the average down payment, North Carolinians must save for more than 62 months to have enough to make the down payment on a house.
Median home price: $270,000
Down payment needed: $54,000
How long it takes to save: Five years, 3.1 months
Even after saving up for more than half a decade just to scrape together a down payment, Arizona homeowners still have to make an average mortgage payment of more than $1,260 per month, which is higher than most other states.
Median home price: $337,500
Down payment needed: $67,500
How long it takes to save: Five years, 4.8 months
Although millennials in Utah earn a healthy median income of $62,518 per year, they still need more than $65,000 for a down payment because median home prices are on the high side. On average, it will take them five-plus years to save up for a down payment.
Median home price: $349,950
Down payment needed: $69,990
How long it takes to save: Five years, 6.8 months
Washington is another state where millennials are earning good wages, but they also have to save up a lot to have enough for a down payment. You'll need almost $70,000 to get to 20 percent of an average home, which will take the average millennial more than five-and-a-half years to do. Seattle is one of the worst cities for aspiring millennial homeowners.
Median home price: $299,500
Down payment needed: $59,900
How long it takes to save: Five years, 7.7 months
Not only will millennials in Nevada need almost $60,000 for a typical down payment, but their average mortgage rate of 4.33 percent is the highest of the 16 states on this list and the second-highest in the country behind Minnesota's 4.36 percent.
Median home price: $277,500
Down payment needed: $55,000
How long it takes to save: Five years, 7.7 months
Idaho's comparatively low median home price is offset by the fact that the median annual income for earners between 25 and 44 is less than $50,000, meaning it will ultimately take almost 68 months to save up for a down payment.
Median home price: $345,000
Down payment needed: $69,000
How long it takes to save: Five years, 8.2 months
In much of the country, it's more cost-effective to own a home, rather than rent. Still, saving while renting can be especially difficult for residents of the Empire State, where the high median home price pushes the time necessary to reach an average down payment to nearly six years.
Median home price: $285,000
Down payment needed: $57,000
How long it takes to save: Five years, 9.9 months
Floridians might have low housing prices compared with other states, but that comes with lower incomes as well. It takes much less cash to get to a 20 percent down payment in Florida than it does in New York, but it'll still take two months longer at the lower income level.
One good thing about Florida: It has some of the best to own investment property.
Median home price: $415,000
Down payment needed: $83,000
How long it takes to save: Five years, 10.2 months
Median incomes for millennials in Massachusetts are above $70,000 per year, but median home prices are well over $400,000, meaning it will take more than 70 months of saving 20 percent of your income before you'll have a full down payment.
Median home price: $299,999
Down payment needed: $60,000
How long it takes to save: Six years, 2.4 months
You would think that Montana, with its relatively modest average down payment of $60,000, wouldn't appear this high on the list. However, the state's low wages — the median annual income for ages 25-44 is just $48,380 — mean it will take more than six years for the average millennial Montanan to save up that $60,000.
Median home price: $405,000
Down payment needed: $81,000
How long it takes to save: Six years, 5.7 months
With more than $80,000 necessary for a down payment in Colorado, it will take most millennials about six-and-a-half years to scrape together the money. Even after reaching that milestone, they're not out of the woods. The average mortgage in the state will mean monthly payments of $1,813, one of the highest in the country. Be mindful when buying in Colorado: The state might be in a new real estate bubble.
Median home price: $350,000
Down payment needed: $70,000
How long it takes to save: Six years, 6.8 months
Oregon's housing market is pretty similar to the one just north in Washington, with the two states seeing only a $50 difference in median home prices. That said, millennials in Oregon earn much less money on average, with a median income of $53,270 vs. Washington's $62,848. That's the main reason it takes an additional year in Oregon to save up the $70,000 down payment.
Median home price: $535,000
Down payment needed: $107,000
How long it takes to save: Seven years, four months
Washington, D.C. boasts the highest median income for millennials of all of the 16 states listed here, at $72,935 per year. But it still requires one of the longest wait times to save up a down payment because of the whopping $107,000 average down payment necessary to buy a house in the nation's capital.
Median home price: $495,000
Down payment needed: $99,000
How long it takes to save: Seven years, 9.1 months
Life in California isn't cheap, with the median home price coming in just below $500,000 dollars. Even though the state's millennials earn a median annual income of more than $60,000, they still need more than seven-and-a-half years to put together the $99,000 they need to get started on their first home purchases.
Median home price: $610,000
Down payment needed: $122,000
How long it takes to save: Eight years, 5.7 months
It's interesting that two of the places in the top five for median millennial income — Hawaii at $71,977 and Washington, D.C at $72,935 — are also among the three with the longest time necessary to save up for a down payment. The reason is simple: Even when you're earning a lot, if you live in an extremely competitive real estate market you'll likely spend a lot more time saving up for that first house.
Methodology: Down payment and monthly mortgage payment were calculated based on the most recent median listing price and average mortgage rate per state, with 20 percent down payment. Median household income for 25-44 year-olds was used for yearly income, which was divided by 12 to find monthly income. Saving for down payment was based on saving 20 percent of monthly income, spending 50 percent on necessities and 30 percent on non-necessities.
Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook.