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How Old Is Too Old? Getting A Mortgage Later In Life

For older people getting a mortgage may seem like an impossibility, particularly for those approaching retirement age. The general perception is that those heading toward their twilight years have little to no chance of being accepted for a mortgage.

There are many lenders who have strict criteria and maximum age limits when it comes to approving mortgages, however, there are specialist lenders who are happy to offer mortgage products to borrowers of any age.

There are many schemes that have been created with pensioners in mind, such as lifetime mortgages, equity releases and interest-only retirement

mortgages. But there are also traditional mortgage products available for those considered old. Thankfully there are a number of specialist lenders out there willing to offer repayment and interest-only standard mortgage products to pensioners and retirees. Eligibility For Older Borrowers

It’s not surprising that lenders will be less inclined to lend to people as they get older for the simple fact that they have less time to repay the loan. There are however specialist lenders, who can be accessed through specialist mortgage brokers, that have no upper limits when it comes to the age of prospective buyers. Not only are mortgage products available for this age demographic, but there are some great deals with competitive interest rates available for those looking to get a mortgage later in life.

Older borrowers, particularly pensioners, are typically considered higher risk primarily due to the fact that their regular income is usually lower than their younger counterparts and therefore lenders are more concerned with their ability to meet monthly mortgage payments. Meeting the affordability criteria can be more challenging as you get older and most lenders, especially in the current economic climate, are not willing to take the risk. There are three main eligibility criteria that lenders look at when applications are made for standard mortgage products:

1. Affordability

This is probably the most important test that the lender will apply to your application. The affordability test will look at whether the borrower can realistically meet the monthly repayments for the property they wish to purchase.

For borrowers in their 40s and 50s, lenders may be quite stringent in their criteria and will be assessed on their current income and employment. Although still quite a way to go to retirement age, this age group will possibly be accepted for a mortgage with shorter repayment terms.

For the older age group, retirees and pensioners, proving that they can meet the repayments with their pension income is paramount to being accepted. All monthly outgoings will be taken into account as with any age group applying for a mortgage. The majority of lenders will allow 3 to 4 times annual income, with some even going up as far as 5 to 6 times.

For those considering an interest-only mortgage, this figure could potentially be a lot higher with some, but not many, offering 10 times annual income, provided you are using a secured loan to release cash.

2. Mortgage Term Length

The term length of the home loan is an important consideration, particularly for older borrowers who have fewer options available to them in terms of the number of lenders willing to approve them for a mortgage.

The majority of lenders will have an upper age limit which will restrict the term of the loan. For example, if you are 60 years old and the lender has an age limit of 75 years, then you will probably be required to take the loan over a shorter period which will, in turn, result in higher monthly repayment rates. Borrowers will need to prove that they can afford the higher amount for the lender to feel confident enough to approve the mortgage. It varies from lender to lender as to whether they will allow a mortgage to run into the borrower’s retirement age. Some will allow it, whilst others will have more stringent rules regarding mortgages being paid off prior to retirement. It all boils down to individual lenders’ criteria and most importantly the affordability aspect. Qualification criteria will depend on various factors including the amount of retirement income the borrower realistically can expect to receive on a monthly basis, the date at which they will officially retire and the amount of money that has accumulated in their pension scheme, if they have one.

3. LTV (Loan to Value) The loan to value amount is very important when lenders are considering the approval of a mortgage for older borrowers. The LTV is the ratio of the mortgage against the value of the property that will be purchased. For example, an LTV of 60% means that the buyer pays a deposit of 40% of the property’s full value and the lender will cover the remaining 60% with the home loan.

The larger the deposit that older buyers have, the more likely they are to be accepted for a standard mortgage product. Many lenders will require a 20% deposit for a standard repayment mortgage with competitive interest rates. Others will accept as little as a 5% deposit but the interest rate will be understandably higher.

For interest-only mortgages, lenders will generally accept a 15% deposit but for older applicants, most require a minimum of 25% down payment. The property in this type of mortgage agreement is considered as the ‘repayment vehicle’, meaning that the ultimate sale of the house will repay the home loan in full. With a retirement interest-only mortgage there is no end date like there would be for a regular interest-only home loan.

4. Maximum Age Range The maximum age range varies from lender to lender. The majority will approve applications from buyers up to the age of 70 as long as they meet all the eligibility criteria. For older applicants (75+) the choice of lender is significantly diminished and reduces even further for the over 80’s. However, this does not mean that this age group is completely excluded, as there are lenders, although only a few, that are happy to approve applications provided they meet all the criteria required by the lender. Why Older Mortgage Applicants May Not Be Approved There are a variety of reasons that older mortgage loan applicants may be rejected for a home loan:

  • Bad Credit History – for all age groups this could present a problem when applying for finance, particularly for the older age demographic. A retired buyer is already considered to be high risk so lenders will be unlikely to approve when the applicant also has a bad credit history. There are, however, some specialist lenders who will consider these applicants.

  • High-Interest Rates – as there are fewer lenders willing to lend to pensioners and retirees, interest rates are higher due to the lack of competition.

  • The Type of Property – lenders will assess the type of property that the buyer wishes to purchase to ensure that it is not a non-standard construction which could potentially be difficult to sell at the end of the mortgage term.

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