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Why ‘Silver Landlords’ are Getting Involved in Buy-to-Let


By Ryan Bembridge

Published: 31st May 2019 Last updated: 10th October 2019

It appears a growing number of older people are investing in property using a buy-to-let mortgage.

Norwich-based broker Commercial Trust last year saw an increase in the number of buy-to-let investors between 65 and 75 taking out a mortgage, with the proportion going to that demographic rising by 5.32% compared to 2017.

Higher maximum ages

Why is this happening? It helps that a rising number of lenders are increasing the maximum age at which you can apply for a buy-to-let mortgage, as well as the maximum age at the end of the mortgage term.

One such lender is Santander, which in April increased the maximum age for its buy-to-let mortgages from 75 to 85 years, meaning a 65 year old can now invest with a 20 year mortgage. It also increased the maximum mortgage term from 25 to 40 years.

However, Santander was actually late to the party, as other lenders have been lending to older borrowers for some time, with Precise Mortgages even offering a mortgage that finishes when they are 110 years old.

As of April, Moneyfacts data showed that of 2,057 buy-to-let deals currently on the market, almost two thirds (65%) had a maximum age at the end of the term of 85 and above. Some 30% of the deals had a maximum age of 85 and 9% have a maximum of 95.

That isn’t all, as a fifth (20%) of lenders offer buy-to-let mortgages with no maximum age at all.

Even a big lender like The Mortgage Works, Nationwide Building Society’s buy-to-let brand, sets no maximum age at term end for experienced landlords.

Pension freedom

In the 2015/2016 tax year ‘pension freedom’ reforms came into force, which gave UK retirees the freedom to withdraw the entirety of their pension pot at once if they want.

At the time that there was speculation that it could lead to a rising number of older people investing in buy-to-let.

And while prediction seems a little overstated, the ability of older people to use their money as they wish is likely to have enabled some to invest in property.

Perhaps the pension freedom changes also took a while to bed in, as a record number withdrew from their savings pots between July and September 2018.

While investing in property might be the right move, we recommend speaking to a pensions adviser if you wish to withdraw cash from your pension to invest in property. It’s a big decision and not one you should make on a whim.

Rise of the silver landlord

The past year has seen the rise of the silver landlord, though whether this is the start of a long-term trend is difficult to say.

Investing in property and selecting tenants to let out to isn’t an easy practice, and there are barriers to being a new buy-to-let landlord, with tax changes like the 3% stamp duty surcharge introduced in 2016 and the gradual reduction in mortgage interest tax relief.

However, age is clearly less of a barrier than it was. If you are an older investor you no longer need to sell your properties once you get to a certain age – there are plenty of lenders willing to take on an older investor, whether for new purchases or remortgage.

We are clearly living in a more inclusive market than ever before – which has led to the rise of the silver landlord.

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