Financial Planning, Pensions Advice, Financial Adviser Dunfermline, Fife, Edinburgh and Central Scotland

Wednesday 19th June 2019

Some retirees are finding themselves asset rich but cash poor, impacting the lifestyle achieved. It’s a trend that’s led to an increasing number of people using Equity Release products to unlock wealth currently locked away in property. If you’re looking for ways to boost your retirement income, Equity Release could be an option that helps improve your overall lifestyle and financial security.

Equity Release is the term for a range of products that allow you to access the wealth that’s currently held in property. Usually, it’s only available for those aged over 55 that own their home, you don’t always need to be mortgage free. The most common Equity Release product is a Lifetime Mortgage. This can pay out either a lump sum or several smaller payments over time. There are multiple products to choose from if you’re interested in Equity Release, often the interest will be rolled up so repayments aren’t required, but there are some that allow you to repay interest and/or the capital.

Figures from the Equity Release Council revealed that for every £1 of savings accessed via flexible pension payments, 50p of housing wealth is unlocked. Data shows in 2018, total lending activity through Equity Release grew for the seventh consecutive year, reaching £3.94 billion, following a 29% year-on-year rise. The trend indicates that for some retirees Equity Release is an important part of financial security.

Five reasons Equity Release is rising

There are many reasons why Equity Release has become more popular in recent years, among them are:

1. Property price rises: One of the key factors influencing the popularity of Equity Release is property prices. Over recent decades, property prices have soared. It means that many retirees that have paid off their mortgage are finding their home is worth more than anticipated. The average home in the UK is worth around £226,000. It’s a sum that could help you achieve retirement aspirations when coupled with pensions, savings and investments.

2. Flexible lifestyle: Retirees today often desire a lifestyle that is more flexible than previous generations. As a result, having a fixed, regular income throughout retirement may not suit retirement objectives. Equity Release allows homeowners to increase their income at points either through a lump sum or over several small payments. It can be a tool to help you tick off one-off expenses, such as travelling or renovating your home, or increase long-term income.

3. A desire to help younger generations: As younger generations struggle financially, more parents and grandparents are choosing to lend financial support. As life expectancy rises, an inheritance is likely to come too late for many striving to reach significant milestones, such as purchasing their first home. Equity Release is one option for accessing some of the wealth you’ve built up in property to provide support to loved ones at a time when they need it rather than leaving a home as an inheritance.

4. Increased number of products: There’s a growing number of Equity Release products available, leading to a more competitive market and lower interest rates. According to the Equity Release Council, there were just 58 product options available in 2016. This figure has more than doubled in two years, reaching 139. As a result, the products on offer are more likely to appeal to more retirees than previously.

5. Product diversity: It’s not just the number of products that have increased, there’s a wider range of products types. Just a few years ago, there was little difference between the majority of Equity Release products offered, now there’s more choice that can help give you peace of mind. For example, many products now offer a no negative equity guarantee and there is a growing range that allows you to pay back the capital borrowed. Increased diversity naturally means that you’re now more likely to find an Equity Release product that suits your goals and concerns.

What is Equity Release being used for?

One of the attractive features of Equity Release is that the money accessed can be used in any way that you want. From supplementing general lifestyle costs through to a once in a lifetime holiday, home renovations or paying for long-term care. It’s an option that gives you flexibility.

However, you need to ensure that your plans for the money secured through Equity Release is sustainable, whether you take a single lump sum or want to make multiple withdrawals. There is only a finite amount of capital that can be withdrawn from your home, so it’s important to think about how you’ll use it to achieve your aspirations before making a decision.

If you’re considering Equity Release, it’s also important to be aware of the drawbacks and alternative solutions first. It’s not an option that’s right for everyone, contact us to discuss whether Equity Release could help you.