Buying a property at different life stages: What to consider

Woman in 50s, sitting on porch with dog, in front of the home she just bought.

So you’ve made the decision to purchase your own little piece of earth. No matter what stage of life you are at, there are two things to figure out: 

a) what kind of property you want to buy

b) what you can actually afford

Figure out your borrowing power

One of the first big wads of cash you’ll hand over for a home loan is the deposit. Ideally, you will want to have at least 20% to put down. Any less than that and you will generally have to pay lenders mortgage insurance, unless you have a guarantor. 

This brings us to our next point, which is that what life stage you are at will most likely have some bearing on how much of a deposit you can muster up and what you can afford.

Buying in your 20s or 30s

Illustration of a couple buying a flat together in their 20s.

There are both pros and cons to buying a home in your 20s or 30s. Buying at a young age means you should be able to get a longer loan term (between 25 and 30 years). This will make your repayments smaller and more manageable. However, simply saving enough money for a deposit in the first place can be a tough hurdle to get over.

If you’re at the beginning of your career, then you probably won’t be earning the big bucks just yet. Having someone to share the financial burden with, whether that be a family member, your partner or a friend usually helps. This isn’t always possible, so if you are buying by yourself then you’ll want to keep a strict budget and have a clear idea of what you can afford.

You might even be able to take advantage of the government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme if you are a first time buyer. Read our First Home Loan Deposit Scheme guide to learn more about what criteria you need to meet, to be eligible for the scheme.

Buying a home with children

Illustration of a couple with children, buying a home.

If you have children, then the goal posts for buying your own property move once again. 

You may still be able to get a longer loan term, even into your mid-40s, but you will obviously have other expenses to consider. Plus, as Mozo’s Property Expert Steve Jovcevski says, lenders take into account a whole lot more when working out your home loan serviceability these days (that’s a calculation to work out your ability to pay back the loan).

“The new serviceability criteria takes into account stuff like tuition costs. So you’ll need to show your lender how much you’re spending on private school fees and that could have some effect on how much you can borrow,” says Jovcevski.

Of course that’s just one cost to consider. Simply having children comes with different expenses, whether that be the basics like food and clothing or more luxury expenses like paying for streaming services.

The best thing to do is to sit down and work out what all your expenses are. Then you can look at your savings and get a rough idea of what type of property you can afford to buy. As Jovcevski says, it may be a matter of thinking about what is more important to you right now. If you want to send your children to a pricey school then you may have to settle on a smaller home and mortgage and vice versa.

Buying in your 50s

Illustration of a man in his 50s, holding a piggy bank and standing in front of a house he's about to buy.

Once you get into your 50s, you will have fewer options available to you when it comes to home loans. This is because most lenders do not want mortgage repayments to carry on into retirement. In fact, the closer you are to retirement age, the less likely lenders are to approve you for a longer loan term.

“The thing with the loan term is, the shorter it is, the higher the repayments will be,” says Jovcevski. “If your lender won’t approve you for a longer loan term, then you will have to think about how high the loan repayments will be.”

Jovcevski added that when buying a home in your 50s or even late 40s, it is important to know what your savings are and how much superannuation you have. This is because your lender will take all this into account when deciding whether or not to approve you for a loan.

For instance, let’s say you want to borrow $500,000 to buy a house. Your lender will take your current superannuation balance into account and any other savings you might have. The expectation is that you will be able to have paid off the loan in about 15 years time.

Of course, whether you want to use your superannuation to buy a house is another question. If you have high loan repayments to offload throughout your 50s and early 60s then this may affect your quality of life. So, you may not be able to take as many holidays as you would like, you might not be able to afford a new car, that sort of thing.

Ultimately you really need to weigh up your options and decide what is more important to you.

Check your credit 

Lastly at any life stage, you will need to know what your credit history is. You can get a free credit check at least once a year to find out your credit score. Then, if it’s not so great, you can work on improving it. 

Head to Mozo’s home loans guides section for more information on taking out a mortgage. Or, if you’re ready to dive in and start looking for a loan, check out the home loans on offer below.

Compare home loans - last updated 13 August 2022

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