Conventional wisdom says that if you want to buy a home, you do it when you’re young. After all, if you’re going to be paying on a mortgage for 30 years, it’s better to get a jump on it sooner rather than later. For some would-be homebuyers, however, making a move to buy isn’t something they tackle until later in life.
Maybe you’re trying to pay your student loans or credit card debt down first. Maybe you didn’t hit your peak earning years until after your 40th birthday. Whatever the reason for putting off a first home purchase, one thing doesn’t change: buying a home is still stressful. It means jumping through certain hoops, regardless of how young or old you are.
If you’re prepping to buy a home for the first time and you’re in your 40s or 50s, your financial situation may look a little different than a twenty-somethings. I’ve got some pointers that can help make navigating the process as smooth as possible so you don’t have to put off your dream of owning a home any longer.
1. The rules for buying don’t change
Mortgage lending standards have gotten tighter over the last decade or so but being a little older doesn’t mean you’re exempt from following the rules. You still have to meet the minimum credit score requirements for the loan you’re applying for. Your debt-to-income ratio has to match up with what the lender’s looking for and you’re still expected to pony up money for a down payment.
While that may be disappointing to hear if you were looking for a break, there is one upside. A lender can’t deny you for a loan based solely on your age if you meet the financial guidelines needed to qualify. They also can’t use your health against you as a condition of approval. That means if you’re a 55-year-old with diabetes, you can still get a mortgage as long as you’ve got the means to pay for it.