Kiwis are buying houses later in life. Many plan to keep working past age 65 to service the loans on their dream homes.
For some people, taking out 15- or 20-year mortgages in late middle age might be the answer so that they're not slugging it out at work to pay a mortgage until the day they die. If, however, they're borrowing to the limit of their current income, borrowers may need a longer mortgage. That brings them up against the brick wall of the bank.
The easy credit in recent years has meant many people "in their twilight years" have greater housing debt than previous generations, says mortgage broker Geoff Bawden of Bawden Consulting.
What's more, 60 is the new 50 and many "older" middle-aged Kiwis don't see why they should be banned from buying property when they're still working.
Many continue to trade up as they build equity in their homes, rather than paying down the mortgage before retirement. That means they have to go cap in hand to the bank at an age that would have been frowned on in the past.
The good news is that lenders can't discriminate on age alone, says Bawden. "They can however legitimately question the longevity of your ability to pay that loan."
The new Responsible Lending Code released this year is proving a game-changer for some so-called older people aged over 50, says Bawden.
The code sits under the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act and outlines lenders' responsibilities. It's designed to give greater protection to borrowers and should, among other things, stop lenders making loans to people who can't afford the repayments, says Banking Ombudsman Nicola Sladden.
Banks now have to make reasonable enquiries about whether the credit meets the borrower's requirements and can be repaid without substantial hardship. Banks also have to assist borrowers to make informed decisions before and after taking on a mortgage.
Bawden says as a result some potential borrowers are failing to get the loan they want. "I have seen instances in recent times of banks running for the hills over this," he says.
This, however, upsets some clients who think the bank has no right to question what is going to happen to them in the future.
Banks will lend, however, to anyone with a realistic exit strategy for the loan. That could be:
- Selling to move to a smaller property or a cheaper location
- Paying the loan off with superannuation pay-outs or KiwiSaver
- Or continue to pay the loan with passive income that isn't dependent on a day job.
Bawden says plenty of Kiwis he speaks to have no intention of retiring at 65, if at all.
Some will work until they drop. Or they're doing the "Kiwi thing" of owning their own home and a little rental that they can sell come retirement.