Are some of us getting too old for a mortgage?

A study by shows that first-timers now expect to wait until they are 43 to get on the property ladder in London, or 38 if they live elsewhere. And the average age of new buyers is rising – in the 1960s, it was just 27, according to Post Office Mortgages.

Add to this that young people now need to earn 55 per cent more to match the lifestyle taken for granted by their parents at their age, and it's no surprise that more than half – 53 per cent – of would-be first-time buyers have given up hope of being able to afford their own home.

The sooner you take action to improve your finances, the better chance you have of beating the system and getting the keys to your first home. You could start with these six tips:

Learn to save

According to the Halifax, 95 per cent of 20 to 45-year-olds claim not to have enough spare cash to put anything by, but it's largely a question of mind over matter. Start by auditing your spending to find out where your money is going and where you might cut back.

Money Management Software

This is where Money Dashboard is useful. You can register your bank accounts and credit cards, and Money Dashboard will start tagging your incoming and outgoing transactions automatically. You can then compare data and budget for the future. And it doesn't cost a penny to use.

Prices Comparison Engines

Use price comparison sites, to make your money go further and put a little aside every month. Some accounts pay higher interest if you contribute regularly.

Clean up your credit report

This is the history of your credit accounts, such as cards and loans, plus your repayment record. Lenders look at it before they make you an offer, so it needs to be accurate and up to date. Contact the relevant lender if you disagree with any item. You can see your Experian credit report for free with a 30-day trial of CreditExpert (New customers only. Monthly fee applies after free trial ends).

…and keep polishing

  • Close unused accounts, paying particular attention to any shared with an ex-partner; your credit status could suffer if he or she has money troubles.
  • Start tackling your debts, beginning with the ones charging the highest interest.
  • Register to vote at your current address. This shows lenders that you live where you say you do and may improve your credit rating.

Never skip a repayment

Missed and late payments stay on your credit report for at least three years, warning lenders you could be unreliable, so set up direct debits. If you have a legitimate reason for missing a repayment, add a note of explanation.

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