Ask Paul: My fiancee and I are in our 50s and still renting


Dear Paul,

My fiancee and I are long-term renters, always in credit, no problems. I work for a state government agency and my average income is $85,000. My fiancee does not work, but this may change in the near future. We live on the NSW south coast and want to buy a home closer to Sydney, perhaps in the Sutherland area.

My problem is that about 20 years ago I bought a small unit and utilised the newly established FHOG for the deposit and then sold it a couple of years later. My understanding is that this now completely makes me and my fiancee unable to benefit from any of the grants or concessions for our first home.

paul clitheroe

We have about $40,000 tied up in a share portfolio. I have some super, and I have no loans or credit cards debts. We are thinking of investing, as we do have a good amount of disposable income each pay. Our major issue, however, is time. We are both early 50. - Phil

Sorry to disagree, Phil, but you have plenty of time. I reckon anyone under my age of 65 is a youngster and as a couple in your early 50s you are just babies.

I reckon you are right about not being able to access first home owner grants, but I have to say this is just not my area at all. I'd double-check with a property expert, such as a professional mortgage broker or lender, as to what is available here. In these strange COVID times, new support seems to pop up on a regular basis.

This is an issue that only you and your fiancee can decide, but is the option of buying in her name as a first home owner a good one for you both? You could always ask a solicitor to document this as a permanent record.

More broadly, though, I love the idea of you owning a home and paying down the loan over the next decade or so of your work. Loans are ridiculously cheap right now, and I can see you with a mortgage in the high 2% range, meaning you could really use your surplus income to pay off the loan inside your working lives. This, I feel, should really be a key goal for you, so I'd do your research and chat to some lenders.

If you can hang onto your share portfolio, even better. I am sure it is delivering better returns than the under-3% cost of a mortgage, but I do appreciate a decent deposit is important. Again, talk to your lender about this.

Get stories like this in our newsletters.

Related Stories

Paul Clitheroe AM is founder and editorial adviser of Money magazine. He is one of Australia's leading financial voices, responsible for bringing financial insight to Australians through personal finance books, the Money TV show, and this publication, which he established in 1999. Paul is the chair of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and is chairman of InvestSMART Financial Services. He is the chair of Financial Literacy at Macquarie University where he is also a Professor with the School of Business and Economics. Ask Paul your money question. Unfortunately Paul cannot respond to questions posted in the comments section. View our disclaimer.