UK mortgage industry urged to do more for older buyers

Taylor Scott International News

The mortgage industry in the UK must better respond to the challenges of an ageing society and fit in with the increasing number of retirees taking out loans for homes, it is suggested. Speaking at a conference organised by the Council of Mortgage Lenders, David Sinclair, director of the International Longevity Centre-UK (ILC-UK), urged the industry to ensure they do not discriminate on basis of age alone. Sinclair also urged older people to think very carefully before looking to buy to let and an investment option to give them a return on their pension savings. He welcomed the work being done by the CML on this topic and urged the industry body to continue to work with providers to ensure they are better equipped to respond to the challenges of demographic change. Since 2010, both the number and percentage of mortgages extending into retirement has increased and ILC-UK research in 2014 revealed that the average housing wealth of retirees is £122,000 or £1.4 trillion in total. While lending criteria has been tightened across the board as a consequence of first the credit crunch and then the MMR, ILC-UK says that this may not fully explain the rising numbers of people who appear to be excluded from the mortgage market purely on the basis of age. Sinclair said that broader demographic trends, financial insecurity and public policy change is resulting in increasing numbers of people needing to take a mortgage into retirement but property investments can be risky and they do not guarantee returns. ‘The industry and the regulatory environment have been seemingly struggling to respond to ageing and demographic change. We are, however, very pleased to see that the industry have begun to respond to these challenges through the important work being led by the CML,’ Sinclair told the conference. ‘We are living longer, our family structures are changing, we are marrying later and we are working longer. At the same time, financial insecurity will result in more people needing to borrow more and later in life. We should be particularly worried about those retirees with interest only mortgages but no linked investment,’ he pointed out. He explained that whilst the introduction of pension freedoms could be a boon to the buy to let sector, older people should make sure they take advice before making the jump and with older people holding almost £1.4 trillion in wealth in their homes, equity release is going to be an attractive way of supplementing a pension for many. ‘The industry needs to ensure that the income poor asset rich pensioners are well served by this market. That said, the recent growth in the number of people aged 55 to 64 taking equity release is potentially very worrying,’ he added. Sinclair also called on the industry and government to work to address the fear of borrowing faced by many income poor, asset rich customers and to work together to ensure that individuals have access to advice. He added… Continue reading →

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