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Housing affordability because of prices across many parts of the world, especially in developed countries like the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, have reached astronomical levels. This unprecedented rise in real estate values has pushed home ownership increasingly out of reach for average-income earners. In hot markets, astronomical prices have even left upper-middle-class families struggling to afford to buy homes.

This growing crisis of housing affordability has become a major social, political, and economic issue. In many cities, homes cost 10-12 times the median income or even higher. Down payments alone require decades of disciplined savings for average families. Rising rents consume ever larger chunks of monthly paychecks, making saving for down payments difficult.

In a bid to ease this intensifying housing affordability crisis and help stimulate housing market activity, some banks and policymakers have recently floated the idea of 50-year mortgages. This post explores the key questions and debates surrounding such long-term home loans.

Who Has Suggested 50-Year Mortgages?

In late 2022 and early 2023, several major international banks, mortgage lenders, and government agencies began proposing 50-year mortgage terms as a potential solution if housing continues becoming ever-less affordable.

Lenders like HSBC, Scotia Bank, New Zealand Housing Corporation, and Australian lenders RESIMAC and La Trobe Financial have all been researching or hinting at offering multi-decade loans. The logic is that much longer financing timeframes could materially reduce monthly payments and finally make homeownership possible for more buyers.

50-Year Mortgage Look Like For Housing Affordability?

Traditionally, home mortgages have had repayment timeframes ranging from 10-30 years. Terms beyond 30 years have been quite rare. However, as the median house now costs well over 10 times the median income in many global cities, both buyers and policymakers have been forced to reconsider longer financing options for housing affordability.

In simple terms, extending a mortgage dramatically from the status quo of 30 years to 50 years would shrink the monthly payments substantially. For example, at a 5% interest rate, the monthly payment for a $500,000 home would drop around $600 per month if the term was expanded from 30 to 50 years. This decrease could make housing affordable for those otherwise shut out.

The Key Debate Points

Offering mortgages for 50 years has some clear benefits, but critics have also raised serious concerns about unwise risk levels this could encourage. Here are the key factors under debate regarding such exceptionally long-term home loans:

Potential Benefits:

Risks and Drawbacks:

In Summary, while the policy idea of providing 50-year mortgages in hyper-expensive and compitative real estate markets has valid arguments on both sides, it also signals just how severe the crisis of housing affordability has become worldwide over the span of last few years. As the housing affordability crisis continues to challenge communities, the introduction of a 50-year mortgage offers a potential solution. By spreading payments over an extended period, this innovative approach aims to make homeownership more accessible. With home prices continuing to rise faster than incomes, extreme ideas like multi-generational mortgages are likely to gain more mainstream traction in the coming years.

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