The supply of homes for sale has plunged to an 11-year low, according to estate agents - who warned that the market is reaching "crisis point".
The dwindling number of available properties means there are now 11 house hunters fighting for every available home, the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) said.
An average of 38 homes were available per estate agency branch in August, marking the lowest level of supply seen since January 2004, when 38 properties were also available, according to the NAEA's figures.
August also saw a dip in house hunters, with an average of 408 house hunters registered per member branch, down from 462 in July.
The average number of completed sales increased by one in August to 10 properties per branch.
But first-time buyers appear to be finding themselves "squeezed out", with strong competition from buyers higher up the housing ladder pushing through sales, the report said.
One in five sales (20%) were made to first-time buyers in August, compared with 23% in July and 24% in June.
Mark Hayward, managing director of the NAEA, said: "There simply aren't enough houses to match demand and we're reaching crisis point.
"There are now 11 house hunters fighting after every available house which isn't sustainable.
"First-time buyers are finding themselves being squeezed out of the competition, which of course means it's taking young buyers longer to get their foot on the first step of the ladder, which will in turn increase pressure on the rental market."