8 need-to-know points for first-time buyers over 50

3 months ago
8 need-to-know points for first-time buyers over 50

Based on three different data sets, the average age for a first-time buyer in the UK is 34 – a figure that has been rising over the last decade, whichever analysis you look at.   

In reality, however, many potential homeowners have to wait much longer to buy their first property, with the task of saving for a deposit, clearing debts and reaching an optimum salary proving hard against a backdrop of rising inflation and increasing mortgage rates.  

In fact, figures from the Financial Conduct Authority show a sharp rise in the number of first-time buyers aged 50 or older. Between 2018 and 2022, the number of first-time buyers aged between 40-45 rose 7.9%. For those aged between 46-50 that figure was 6.9%, while it was 6.6% for those between 51-55 and 7% for those aged 56 and over.   

To put those increases into context, the number of first-time buyers aged between 18-25 has decreased 1.2%, while it has dropped 0.2% among those aged between 26-30 – two age groups that we traditionally labelled peak first-time buyers.  

Here are right things you should know about becoming a first-time buyer when you’re 50 or older:  

You can never be too old to own your first home: Britain’s oldest first-time buyer is reported to be Edward Simon Jones, who took his first step on the property ladder at the grand old age of 86.

Cash is king: if you’re fortunate enough to be asset rich in later life, the easiest way to buy your first home will be to purchase using cash, as there will be no need for a mortgage – see point 3. 

You can be too old to get a mortgage: lenders can refuse an older first-time buyer a mortgage based on how old they will be when they take out the loan and how old they’ll be when the mortgage term ends. 

Usually, a lender will want the borrower to be between 70 to 95 when the last repayment has been made. So, a 50 year old taking out a 15 year mortgage stands a better chance than a 71 year old trying to secure a 25-year mortgage.

You’ll have better success with a big deposit: this means you will have less money to borrow and can agree on a shorter mortgage term – all of which tick a lender’s boxes if you’re over the age of 50.

The older you are, the shorter the term: although an uncomfortable point, lenders will look at how long a borrower may live for at the time of a mortgage application. Generally, the older the applicant, the shorter the available term will be. Keeping the term below 15 – even 10 – years is wise for those over 50.

You can get a mortgage in retirement: if you need a home loan to finance your first home, but you’re retired, the lender will want evidence of other sizable assets, such as a pension, annuity, stocks, shares or cash savings. This is so they’re assured there is still a regular income or that there are assets available to be sold to meet any repayment shortfalls –  or even clear the mortgage in its entirety.

Life insurance is recommended: if the owner of a mortgaged property dies, the repayments still need to be made. Most life insurance policies will pay off the mortgage balance upon a death. In the absence of a life insurance policy, the debt needs to be settled by the estate – usually achieved by selling the property in question. This will lessen the amount inherited by any beneficiaries.  

Consider your first home your ‘forever’ home: our needs change as we get older so more mature first-time buyers will need to consider how their health, lifestyle and finances will change in their twilight years. Considerations may include access to bus routes, medical facilities and shops; proximity to family and friends: the style of property (whether it has stairs or a ground-floor bathroom), the level of upkeep and maintenance required, and running costs. 

We have available properties suitable for all ages of first-time buyers and we can put you in touch with an independent financial advisor for mortgage guidance.

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