You can’t eat bricks but a mortgage might help

Here’s how a mortgage in later life can help you make the most of your retirement. 25 January 2021 by Perenna

Paying off your mortgage is one of the biggest financial milestones in your lifetime. Being mortgage-free is something that most of us will have been working towards since we first stepped on the ladder. For some, it might even be synonymous with the idea of having the financial freedom to enjoy the retirement we want whether that’s renovating the kitchen, building an extension or taking a once-in-a-lifetime holiday.

Working towards paying off your mortgage is certainly no bad thing, but the borrowing landscape has now changed dramatically. Having debt in later life doesn’t have to mean you can’t live the retirement you want.  In fact, a mortgage in later life could actually give you the means to live your best retirement.

New opportunities due to low interest rates

Today, interest rates are sat near record low levels and borrowing is cheaper than ever – particularly when it comes to mortgages. At the same time, house prices have risen substantially in recent decades. According to the Office for National Statistics, prices increased by 4.7% in the year to September to reach an average of £245,000. If you’re a homeowner who has spent those decades steadily paying off the mortgage, it’s likely you’ll now have much more of your wealth tied up in the property you own – and you certainly won’t be alone in that regard.

Unlocking that housing wealth in later life through a mortgage could help you to access the funds you need to enjoy the retirement you’ve always wanted. But how can you make that wealth work to your advantage?

Making your property wealth work for you

Long-term fixed-rate mortgages, which will be launched soon by Perenna, can provide a viable option, whether you’re looking to help your children onto the ladder or enjoy your best retirement. Given the low interest rates at present, this could be a cost-effective way to release equity and, because rates are fixed, you’ll know exactly what you’ll need to pay in the future.

With a long-term fix like those Perenna will soon offer, you can use the freed-up funds to achieve the lifestyle in retirement you want, or alternatively to carry out home improvements and even pay for holidays.

Long-term mortgages are not equity release plans. They do not have compounded interest rates where the debt you owe grows quickly and which could leave you with little to pass on as inheritance to your loved ones.

The Bank of Mum and Dad

What about helping your kids too? High house prices are not just an issue that affects older generations – they can also make it difficult for younger people to save enough money for a deposit to step onto the ladder. It’s not surprising then that a growing number of first-time buyers are relying on the so-called Bank of Mum and Dad to help make their own property dreams a reality. A report published earlier this year by Legal & General found that 23% of property transactions are now supported by money gifted from friends or family. But if you have no readily-accessible cash after paying off your mortgage, this can leave your children with limited options.

Downsizing into a smaller, less expensive property is one way of releasing these funds, or you could take out an equity release mortgage. Both can be expensive though, and from the hassle of moving to equity release eating into inheritance, there are also other drawbacks. Likewise, high-interest borrowing such as credit cards can potentially undo a lifetime’s good work of paying back your mortgage debt.

A route onto the ladder too

Taking out a long-term fix could even reduce or remove the need for you to act as the Bank of Mum and Dad for your children too. One of the greatest challenges facing younger buyers today is passing strict affordability tests when it comes to getting a mortgage. Borrowers must prove they can meet repayments if interest rates were much higher, in some cases up to 7%. This has led to first-time buyers being told they cannot afford a mortgage, even if their monthly repayments would be much lower than what they are currently paying for their rent. Yet, by taking out a long-term mortgage with a fixed interest rate, your children wouldn’t have to pass the same level of stress testing, making it easier for them to achieve their dream of homeownership without having to draw on the finances you need to rely on in later life.

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