Today’s first-time buyers could be paying for their homes well into their seventies according to a new study, which found that more than half of mortgages now come with a 40-year maximum term.

The data, from comparison site Moneyfacts.co.uk, found that 57% of home loans have a standard maximum term of 40 years – up from 36% five years ago.

Paying off a mortgage over a longer term can help buyers struggling to get on the housing ladder, because monthly repayments are lower. However, buying over a 40-year period is likely to cost you more in the long term.

Moneyfacts gives the example of a £250,000 repayment mortgage at an interest rate of 2.50%. Over 25 years, the monthly repayments would be £1,121.54 with the total interest payable equalling £86,463. The same mortgage spread over 40 years would attract monthly repayments of £824.45, but increase the total interest to £145,733, an additional £59,270.

According to Darren Cook from Moneyfacts: “Historically, a standard mortgage term generally amounted to a period of 25 years, but a growing majority of products are now available to be extended for a period of 40 years. By extending their mortgage term, borrowers may be looking to reduce their monthly repayments and therefore are more likely to meet strict affordability requirements.”

With the average age of a UK first-time buyer currently 32 years, many will still need to meet their monthly payments after reaching retirement age.

Yorkshire Building Society is the latest mortgage provider to increase its maximum mortgage term criteria to 40 from 35 years, at the same time as increasing its criteria on the maximum age of a borrower at the end of a mortgage from 75 to 80 years.

Darren Cook warned: “The longer a borrower extends their mortgage term, the older they will be when they have finally repaid their mortgage. An extended mortgage term may go beyond pension age, so it is imperative that these borrowers consider their options and attempt to make provisions if their personal circumstances change.”

Read more about this story in The Guardian and on Moneyfacts.co.uk.