Getting a mortgage used to be much trickier the older you got, but lenders now offer a much wider range of options to borrowers aged 50 and above. Our guide takes you through everything you need to know about applying for a mortgage if you’re over 50.
Remortgaging can be one of the best ways to reduce your monthly outgoings, with savings often running into hundreds, if not thousands of pounds a year if you’re currently sitting on your lender’s standard variable rate (SVR). This is the rate borrowers usually automatically move onto when the term of any special deal they signed up for finishes.
According to financial website Moneyfacts.co.uk, the average SVR is currently 8.19% while the Bank of England base rate is 5.25% and the best two-year fixed mortgage deals are around 5.56% (although you’ll need a large chunk of equity to secure this rate).
Even though fixed rates are currently much higher than they were this time last year, you should still be much better off remortgaging compared to rolling onto your lender’s standard variable rate. Learn more about whether now is the right time to fix in our guide Should I fix my mortgage now or wait?
- Can I get a mortgage over 50?
- What is the age limit for getting a mortgage?
- How many years’ mortgage can you get at 50?
- Mortgage affordability – How much can you afford to borrow when you’re over 50
- Can I get a mortgage after I retire?
- Does the mortgage application process differ for the over 50s?
- Ways to improve your chances of being accepted for a mortgage if you’re over 50
- How much could remortgaging save you?
- Mortgages for over 50s: Other options to consider
- How to get a mortgage over 50: Where to go for mortgage help
Can I get a mortgage over 50?
Many people in their 50s and 60s stay on their lender’s SVR because they think remortgaging isn’t an option that’ll be available to them because of their age. Historically, this may have been more of an issue as lenders were reluctant to provide mortgages to older borrowers, because of the risk they might not be able to cover payments if their income reduces when they retire.
Thankfully however, the age at which most lenders start to restrict lending based on age has been pushed back quite significantly in recent years with many lenders extending the maximum age they will consider at the end of the mortgage term. This means it’s crucial not to let this put you off remortgaging and potentially banking big savings.
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: ‘Lending to an older borrower is less of an issue these days than it was. Finding a lender who is prepared to consider lending to a borrower looking for a mortgage term to run even into their eighties is now fairly straightforward.”
What is the age limit for getting a mortgage?
Different lenders impose different mortgage age limits, so when choosing a mortgage it’s a good idea to explore several options so you can be certain you’ve found the best deal for your needs.
If you plan to work beyond State pension age, Halifax, for example. will take your earned income into account until you reach the age of 70. You’ll need to provide them with bank statements and pension statements, showing how much retirement income you’ll receive when you stop working. Your mortgage term must finish by the time you reach the age of 80, so if you’re taking out a mortgage at the age of 60, your mortgage term can be no longer than 20 years.
Santander, however, offers mortgages up to a maximum age of 75, while for interest-only mortgages the maximum age is normally 65. It doesn’t normally lend past the date you expect to retire.
How many years’ mortgage can you get at 50?
The length of the mortgage term you can get depends on the age at which you apply for your mortgage, and which lender you’ve chosen. Some, for example, may agree to lend to you until you reach the age of 75, which means that if you apply for a mortgage at the age of 55, you should be able to apply for a 20-year term.
Mr Hollingworth said: “Many lenders have made some improvement to the limits they place on maximum age at the end of the mortgage term. Although some will still top out at 75 others have extended to consider those mortgages ending at 80 or 85.
“Other lenders will be more flexible where the case makes sense and will judge on the individual merits without any set maximum. For example, Family Building Society can consider a maximum age of 95 at the end of the mortgage term and Buckinghamshire Building Society and Ipswich Business don’t apply a set maximum and will assess each case individually.
“Some lenders have developed particular products aimed at older borrowers that may also offer some more flexibility on age, where the mortgage is and will continue to be affordable. Hodge Lifetime offers a mortgage for over 50s which can be taken to a maximum age of 95. Other lenders like Marsden Building Society have specific rates aimed at older borrowers.”
Mortgage affordability - How much can you afford to borrow when you’re over 50
The important thing to remember is that whatever the age cut off a lender has – they are still required to ensure a mortgage is ‘affordable’, taking into account any potential drop in income from retiring or reducing hours. When applying for a mortgage if you’re over 50, you’ll still be subject to the same mortgage affordability assessments as at any other age. You’ll usually be able to borrow up to four and a half times your income if you’re over 50. If you’re buying with someone else, their income will be included, so if, for example, each of you has an income of £20,000, you’d potentially be able to borrow up to £180,000 (4.5 x £40,000).
Mortgage affordability rules changed last summer. Find out more about this in our guide Mortgage affordability rules scrapped: what does it mean for you?
To see how much you might be able to borrow, have a look at our mortgage affordability calculator.
Can I get a mortgage after I retire?
You might be able to get a mortgage after you retire, provided you can satisfy lenders that you have sufficient income to cover monthly repayments The following types of evidence can usually be used to verify your anticipated retirement income:
- Private / Company Pension Forecast Statement
- State Pension Statement (this can be obtained from The Pension Service).
- Annuity Statement
- Any income from employment or self-employment
These will need to be recent documents, so should be dated within the last 18 months. For more information on this, have a look at our article How can older mortgage borrowers prove their income?
Some mortgages are specifically designed for people who are retired. For example Retirement interest-only mortgages are typically aimed at borrowers in their 50s and 60s who are approaching retirement. They enable you to carry on making interest payments indefinitely, with the loan paid back only when you die or move out. You can find out more about how this kind of mortgage works in our guide How retirement interest-only mortgages work.
Does the mortgage application process differ for the over 50s?
Taking out a mortgage if you’re over 50 isn’t very different to getting a mortgage when you’re in your 20s, 30s or 40s. Lenders will want to check that you’ll be able to afford your payments both now and in the future.
Miles Robinson, head of mortgages at online mortgage broker Trussle, said: “Now, the mortgage process tends to be the same for those in their 50s and still earning an income, as it is for those younger than 50. For those who are retired, most lenders will want to see pension contributions when applying for a mortgage as part of their affordability criteria. Some lenders will lend to borrowers who are up to the age of 80 with pension income, and most will go up to 75 depending on the job. It’s worth noting that if you’re in a manual job, it could limit the number of lenders available to you as you might not be able to continue working into later life.”
Ways to improve your chances of being accepted for a mortgage if you're over 50
If you’re worried about not being accepted for a mortgage, there are certain things you might be able to do that could help boost your chances.
See if you can improve your credit score
When lenders are deciding whether to accept your mortgage application, they will look at your credit score, which is effectively a record of how you’ve managed your debts in the past. The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be accepted for a mortgage. Before you submit your mortgage application, you should get a copy of your credit report from one of the three main credit reference agencies, either Experian, Equifax or TransUnion (formerly Callcredit). ClearScore offers a free credit checking service that accesses Equifax data. They also offer free identity protection that scans for stolen passwords, security problems and fraud defence tips. Experian has a free service that enables you to sign up and check your credit score with them and Totally Money offers a similar service using data from TransUnion.
If you’re worried that your credit score isn’t high enough, there are several ways you might be able to improve it before applying for a mortgage. Even something as simple as not being on the electoral roll can affect your score, so check you’re on it and register online here if you’re not.
You should also review the number of credit accounts you have, including credit and store cards and personal loans. If you have any accounts you no longer use, make sure you shut them down. Don’t assume that just by cutting up a credit card you’ve closed your account – you’ll need to contact your provider and let them know you want to shut it down so they can close your credit account. If you think there’s a mistake on your credit report, you can add a note to your credit file or ask the credit reference agency to remove the incorrect record. Find out more in our guide Seven steps to improve your credit score.
If you’ve done everything possible to improve your credit score but you’ve had or are having financial difficulties, don’t despair, you may still be able to get a mortgage or remortgage. Find out more in our article Can I remortgage if I’m struggling financially?
Have a clear plan on how you’ll pay back your mortgage
Lenders will want to see evidence that you’ll be able to afford to pay back your mortgage both while you’re working and after you retire, so make sure you check that your retirement income will be enough to cover your monthly payments.
If your income is likely to reduce substantially when you retire, you may need to choose a shorter mortgage term that finishes whilst you are still working.
Mr Harris, of SPF Private Clients: “There is one important caveat to borrowing at whatever age you are – the income has to be sustainable to obtain the term you require. The lender will look at the plausibility of being able to make payments throughout the term of the mortgage. If the numbers don’t add up, then affordability can’t be proven and you will have difficulty getting a mortgage.”
How much could remortgaging save you?
Don’t let your age put you off remortgaging, especially as many people aged 50 or over have a decent chunk of equity in their homes, which means they are often able to access the very best rates.
As a general rule, mortgages with a 60% loan to value or less – where you are borrowing less than 60% of the property value – tend to be the most competitive, as they are considered less of a risk by lenders.
For example, someone with a £150,000 repayment mortgage with 15 years left to run who is borrowing 60% of their property value would be paying £1,449 a month if they were on the typical SVR of 8.18%. Their monthly payments would fall to £1,230 a month if they remortgaged to a best buy two-year fixed mortgage rate of 5.56% – a saving of £219 a month or £2,628 a year.
Bear in mind that this information was correct at the time of publishing and is subject to change. The criteria used is illustrative only and the actual savings that might apply to you will depend on your individual circumstances.
Remember too that most mortgages have arrangement fees, and some may also have legal fees, although many remortgage deals come with free legal work included. To maximise any potential savings, make sure you always look at the overall cost of any deal you’re considering moving to, rather than focusing on the headline rate alone. It’s also vital to check you are not subject to any early repayment charges with your current lender, which could easily wipe out any potential savings.
If you think remortgaging could be a good option, you can compare the best remortgage deals on the market through our remortgaging comparison tool.
Mortgages for over 50s: Other options to consider
Remortgaging to a standard mortgage isn’t the only option available to older homeowners looking to reduce costs, or who perhaps want to unlock some of their property wealth. Here, we look at two other options borrowers over 50 may want to consider.
Retirement interest-only mortgages
As previously mentioned, retirement interest-only mortgages are designed for those who are approaching retirement. This type of mortgage can be an option if, for example, you have an interest-only mortgage and are worried about how you’ll repay the capital you owe when your mortgage finishes.
Rather than your mortgage finishing on a specific date, a RIO mortgage enables you to carry on making interest payments indefinitely so that you’re able to stay in your home without having to pay back the capital owed. The capital only has to be repaid when you die or move into long-term care and the property is sold.
Bear in mind that like any other kind of mortgage, if you don’t keep up with your monthly payments, there is still the risk of repossession. One of the main benefits of this type of mortgage is that as you’re only repaying interest and not any of the capital back, your monthly payments will usually be relatively low, and it should be easier to prove you can afford them. The downside, of course, is that the mortgage capital needs to be paid back when you die or go into long-term care, so you won’t be able to leave as much of an inheritance as perhaps you might have liked.
Lenders offering retirement interest-only mortgages are often building societies and include Leeds Building Society, Nottingham Building Society, Nationwide Building Society and Bath Building Society. There’s no minimum age requirement, but they are typically aimed at older homeowners in their 50s or 60s who are likely to find them easier to qualify for than a standard interest-only mortgage.
A lifetime mortgage is a type of equity release plan, so there are no monthly interest payments to make.
Instead, the interest you owe builds up over time and only has to be paid back, together with the amount borrowed, when you either die or move into long-term care. You must seek professional advice before you can apply for a lifetime mortgage. You can find an equity release adviser via the Equity Release Council’s (the trade body for the equity release sector) website here.
You should only ever deal with equity release lenders approved by the Equity Release Council, as plans sold via its members have to come with a guarantee that you can stay in your home for as long as you want to, and that you’ll never end up owing more than the value of your home.
Bear in mind that taking equity out of your home is not without risks. The interest owed can accumulate quite substantially over time, and will reduce the value of any inheritance you might have been planning to leave.
You can see how much a lifetime mortgage might cost you with the help of our Lifetime Mortgage Calculator.
Taking a lump sum out of your property could also affect your entitlement to means-tested benefits. You can find out more about equity release in our article Equity release: what is it and how does it work?
How to get a mortgage over 50: Where to go for mortgage help
If you’re not sure which mortgage deals you’ll be eligible for, or what age you can borrow up to, it’s worth speaking to a professional mortgage advisor. You can read more on why this might be a good idea in our guide Should I get advice on my mortgage?