What Retirees Should Know About Buying a House


The dream of homeownership extends to men and women of all ages—and that includes those who are past retirement. Of course, buying a home once you have left the workforce brings a few challenges and complications. It’s worth thinking about those hurdles before you begin the house hunting process in earnest.

Mortgage Matters

We’ll start with the good news: Legally speaking, lenders are not permitted to deny you a mortgage based on your age. So if you are looking for a loan on a new home, even when you’re past 70, your age alone will not restrict you from getting one.

But is carrying a mortgage into your retirement years really desirable? It’s certainly not ideal. Monthly mortgage payments will complicate your post-retirement financial situation. If it’s possible to purchase a new home outright, perhaps using the equity from the sale of a previous home, that’s far preferable to getting another mortgage payment—though for some retirees, this may not be possible.

If you do apply for a mortgage, you’ll have to prove to the lender that you have a steady income source. If you do not have a paycheck to speak of, you will need to show the lender your Social Security payments, payments from your retirement accounts, payments from your pension, and any other monthly income you receive. Ongoing payments from rental properties or from legal settlements will also suffice.

Something else you will need to consider is the loan term. A 30-year mortgage will have lower monthly payments, but it may not make sense for someone who has reached retirement age; after all, this would mean the individual is past 90, maybe even past 100 when the loan is fully paid off! A 15-year mortgage is more practical.

Other financial considerations to make include insurance, property taxes, HOA dues, and general monthly upkeep; even knowing basic utility costs can be helpful.

Household Upkeep

Finances aside, it’s also important to think about your evolving household needs. Start with maintenance. As you age, you may have less and less ability (or interest) to keep up with a big lawn. Moving to a community where lawn care is provided—or else selecting a small yard that you could pay someone to maintain quickly and affordably—is advisable.

It’s also important to be realistic about how your personal needs will evolve with age. It’s best to be prepared for all contingencies—the loss of ability to climb stairs, for example, or the need for handicap accessibility in the bathroom. Selecting a home that accommodates aging-in-place design is a smart move, and something a real estate agent can help you find.

Certainly, when seeking a home to live in during your retirement years, it’s vital to work with an agent who you trust to help you think through all possible needs. That’s something we are more than happy to do here at Minges Cline, and we invite you to contact our agents at your convenience.