Many older citizens do not realize that they could still qualify for a mortgage, even though discrimination against applicants based on their age is forbidden by the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.
Indeed, even some mortgage professionals are unaware of the rules, it seems. The Wall Street Journal relates the case of Mary Babinski, a senior loan officer with Motto Mortgage Champions, based in Trinity, Florida, who said she was surprised that a 97-year old applicant who came to inquire about a mortgage was still eligible to qualify for a 30-year loan. In fact, older borrowers can qualify for loans that will expire up to their 130th birthday, the Journal said.
But not all lenders are unaware of the opportunity with senior citizens. In fact, some are even trying to promote their loans to retirees with special lending programs geared towards that age group.
There’s a big market there, as borrowers aged over 65 comprise around 10% of all mortgages originated each year, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said.
Still, not every senior can qualify. That’s because many of them are no longer in full-time work, and so they only have limited monthly earnings. But many might be able to qualify based on their pensions, social security benefits, dividends and whatever interest they have available, experts say. Lenders are also more willing to work with retirees to help them qualify, based on income, assets or distributions, the Journal said.
Some retirees could even qualify for a jumbo mortgage, said Richard Barenblatt, a mortgage specialist with GuardHill Financial in New York. He told the Journal he was able to get one retired, 83-year old Manhattan co-op owner a $1 million, 10-year, interest-only adjustable-rate mortgage for a refinance at a “highly competitive rate”.