SALT LAKE CITY — For millennials looking to buy their first home, the hunt feels like a race against the clock.

In the seven years since the housing crash ended, home values in more than three-quarters of U.S. metro areas have climbed faster than incomes, according to an Associated Press analysis of real estate industry data provided by CoreLogic.

That gap is driving some first-timers out of the most expensive cities as well as pressuring them to buy something before they are completely priced out of the market.

The high cost of home ownership is also putting extreme pressure on 20- and 30-somethings as they try to balance mortgage payments, student loans, child care and their careers.

"They do want all the same things that previous generations want," said Daryl Fairweather, chief economist for the brokerage Redfin. "They just have more roadblocks, and they're going to have to come up with more creative solutions to get the homes that they want."

A Redfin analysis found these buyers are leaving too-hot-to-touch big-city markets — among them, San Francisco and Seattle, where the tech boom has sent housing prices into the stratosphere. The brokerage found that many millennials are instead buying in more reasonably priced neighborhoods around places like Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City and Raleigh, North Carolina. That, in turn, is driving up housing prices in those communities.

Nationally, home prices since 2000 have climbed at an annual average rate of 3.8%, according to the data firm CoreLogic, while average incomes have grown at an annual rate of 2.7%. And in the metro areas with the strongest income growth — for example, parts of Silicon Valley — home prices have risen even faster.

The Salt Lake City area is among the hottest spots for first-time buyers in part because of a staggering burst of home construction and a surge of high-tech jobs. The suburb of Lehi, which served as a film location for the 1984 Kevin Bacon movie "Footloose," about a rural town that banned dancing, is in what is now known as "Silicon Slopes" because Adobe, eBay and Microsoft have opened offices there.

Of course, the influx of people from unaffordable cities is contributing to the very problem they were trying to escape: Home prices in the greater Salt Lake City area surged 10.8% in the past year, while average incomes rose only 3.9%, according to figures from CoreLogic and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Andy and Stacie Proctor made a bid on a house in the Salt Lake City suburbs, only to rescind it upon learning there were 13 rival offers. At one point, they almost decided not to buy a house just yet, figuring the bubble was going to burst eventually, said Andy, a 35-year-old who hosts the podcast "More Happy Life."

But there was also the opposite risk: "There is the question about whether it's going to keep going up," his 31-year-old wife said.