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Getting a mortgage when you’re over 60
Federal law prevents lenders from discriminating based on age.
If you’re 60 years or older and looking to buy a new home, your age alone isn’t enough to prevent you from getting a mortgage — but if you’re retired, your lack of a paycheck might be.
Is there a maximum mortgage age limit?
No. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prevents lenders from discriminating based on age. As long as you’re able to meet the financial requirements, you can qualify for a loan at any age.
But one of the requirements for most mortgages is proof of a steady income, which can be trickier if you’re retired or if you’re about to retire. You’ll need to show the lender that your retirement status won’t affect your ability to repay the loan.
What do I need to do to take out a mortgage if I’m over 60?
You’ll need to be able to prove your ability to repay the loan. Your lender will check for:
- Proof of income. If you’re retired, you’ll still need to prove that you’re receiving a steady income and will be able to make consistent loan payments. This can include a combination of social security, pension and retirement plan payments.
- Debts. This includes any outstanding debts, such as credit cards, loans and current mortgages.
- Credit score. A good credit score will make a big difference when it comes to lenders. If your score is less than ideal, consider using a credit repair service before applying for a mortgage.
How to get your mortgage application approved
While it can be more difficult to get a mortgage if you’re retired or planning on retiring soon, it’s possible with the right preparation. To increase your chances of being approved:
- Have a retirement strategy. If you’re still working, have a plan in place for how you’ll continue to pay your mortgage once you retire. This can include your retirement accounts, pension and a plan showing how much you expect to get from Social Security each month.
- Minimize debt. The amount of debt you have is a crucial factor a lender will take into account when assessing your loan application. Pay down existing debt before you apply to increase your chances of approval.
- Save a bigger down payment. The more money you have saved, the more money the bank will be willing to let you borrow. If you can display proof of savings and regular financial discipline, your borrowing power will increase.
- Provide extra financial evidence. Bring as much financial information as possible when you apply for a loan. For example, if you’ve successfully repaid a previous mortgage, including this in your application will show that you’re a reliable borrower. If you own an investment property that’s paid off, bring information on the most recent appraisal to prove that you can sell it as a source of income if needed.
- Ask an expert. If you’re having trouble getting qualified, consider using a mortgage broker. A broker will be able to help you find the lender and loan most suitable for your needs, and can offer advice and assistance on how you can put together the best possible loan application.
Buying a home in a retirement community
If you’re interested in moving into a retirement community, find out if they sell condos or single-family homes before applying for a mortgage. Some retirement communities look like they’re made of traditional houses, but are actually detached condos.
While it is possible to get a mortgage for a detached condominium, you’ll likely need to make a higher down payment — especially if the community’s homeowners association doesn’t meet certain standards.
How do I find the best mortgage?
While the best mortgage will depend on your needs and financial situation, look for:
- Low interest rate. Even a small difference in the interest rate can have a major impact on the total you’ll pay for the home.
- Minimal closing costs. Closing costs generally range from 2% to 5% of the home’s value. On a $250,000 home, that’s a $7,500 gap. Securing low closing costs, or negotiating a deal where the seller pays the closing costs, can save you thousands.
- Additional repayment flexibility. A loan that allows you to make unlimited additional repayments means that you can pay down your debt quicker and minimize the interest you pay, which is especially important if retirement is just around the corner.
For more details on the features you should look for in an over-60s home loan, check with a mortgage broker and ask for advice tailored to your needs and situation.
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What are the risks of mortgages for seniors?
If you’re retired or planning to retire soon, taking on new debt can be a risky endeavor. If your expenses are higher than expected, you could end up having to postpone your retirement or go back to work to make ends meet. And if your retirement money is tied up in stocks, you could end up in financial trouble if the economy takes a downturn.
Getting a mortgage when you’re over 60 is almost the same as getting a mortgage when you’re younger — but you will need to prove a source of income if you’re no longer getting pay stubs. To get the best deal, compare mortgage lenders before getting started.
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