By Mark Gregory on March 24th, 2014
While you might think that going direct to the biggest brand name in the equity release market would be your cheapest option when looking to unlock the equity in your home, you’d be wrong.
The leading name in the equity release market is Aviva. Through Aviva Direct they had provided the services of their own dedicated field based sales force to both advise you on clients options and sell you their products. But the direct sales team needed paying for, and those costs were to be met in sales. This sales force needed wages, pensions, company cars, holidays, benefits, a mobile phone. All of this costs and Aviva needs to find that money from somewhere. Their only real option is for all of that to be costed into the direct product.
Saving through independent equity release services
In contrast to the Aviva tied-in sales model, an independent equity release brokerage such as Equity Release Supermarket costs the company much less. They don’t have to pay any of those costs or expenses, and those savings can be passed onto you, the consumer. Aviva also want to encourage those independent advisers to send them more business. This is how independent companies can offer more competitive deals and rates. They have no obligations to the lenders.
For instance, Equity Release Supermarket can obtain rates on the Aviva Flexible Lifetime Mortgage Plan, starting at 5.68% (5.88% APR). If you get the same deal directly by making the enquiry at Aviva now, even though it won’t be Aviva whom you deal, the rate would be much higher. Beware.
This is the reason that Aviva closed down their direct equity release offering as of 1st July 2013. Today over 80% of all equity release deals are coming in through independent firms. Customers have discovered that the best deals could only be found this way. Aviva was the last big company to still provide the direct service, but now they have realised that they can offer the best service to their customers through independent companies.
How Do Aviva deal with their enquiries now?
Since Aviva Direct was disbanded, enquiries still filter through from the general public. Not only that, Aviva have still continued with their direct marketing as can be evidenced on their paid listing on Google. But why would they continue marketing when they have no advisers to deal with their Aviva equity release enquiries?
Aviva made the unusual decision to use independent equity release brokers to handle the new business & any Aviva additional borrowing enquiries. However, even more unusual is the fact that these independent brokers are unable to deal with these enquiries on an independent basis. They must handle these Aviva potential consumer enquiries by only recommending Aviva’s own lifetime mortgage products. Not only that but this doesn’t come with the independent & best Aviva equity release UK interest rates. Yes, a premium would be paid.
So where do you find the best Aviva equity release interest rates?
As with any purchase to be made, the safest option is to always shop around. Therefore, if an Aviva referral to an outsourced company has been made ascertain their independence and whether this constitutes the best equity release deal. Once the quote & recommendation has been made, it then time to research the whole of the equity release market & compare deals. Using comparison tables such as prepared by CompareEquityRelease.com, you can see where the lowest rates relating to drawdown lifetime mortgages, lumps sum plans or even interest only lifetime mortgage scan be found.
The message is to understand your needs first. Don’t just plump for the first recommendation, especially if the company providing the advice can only recommend an Aviva plan. Aviva do have a very competitive offering, but this must come from an independent source, not a tied representative arrangement. This tool they use to get the best Aviva interest rate is called the Aviva Flex Tool.
What is the Aviva Flex Tool?
Independent equity release brokers have access to a unique quotation tool called the Aviva Flex tool. This is the pre-quotation tool that helps design the customer’s rate & product, whether it be an enhanced lifetime mortgage or maximum lump sum or the Aviva flexible drawdown plan. Based on criteria surrounding the clients ages, property value, health & loan-to-value will determine the lifetime mortgage rate offered. The higher the loan-to-value, the higher the interest rate usually becomes. Additionally, for drawdown lifetime mortgages, the greater the reserve facility required, the higher the interest rate becomes. There, is also the option of choosing certain offers, such as free valuation or a £500 or £1000 cashback.
Therefore, by using a combination of tactics with the size of the cash lump sum, the reserve facility and the cashback/valuation offers can manipulate the interest rate in the clients favour. This is something that only a specialist equity release adviser with access to the Aviva Flex Tool can provide & by contacting EquityReleaseSupermarket.co.uk, this access can be made available.
Work these extras into your Aviva plan
You can build these cash extras to the Aviva plan through Equity Release Supermarket. You might wish to include a free valuation of your property before deciding, or add £500 or £1000 cash back. These are deals that you can only obtain by using one of the top equity release firms in the UK. And the best price on those deals can only be found when using independent advice through companies such as Equity Release Supermarket rather than going through the equity release firm directly.
For a free initial Aviva quotation, call the team on 0800 678 5159 or alternatively complete this Aviva quote request form.
By Mark Gregory on March 22nd, 2014
Pure Retirement recently became the latest equity release provider to enter the lifetime mortgage market. Launched in January 2014, it signalled the re-emerging confidence & growing popularity in the equity release market.
However, it makes no sense for a new lender to enter the market without finding a niche for itself. So, over the past few months Equity Release Supermarket advisers have encountered practical experience of where the Pure Drawdown Plan has fitted in providing best advice scenarios. Here we help explain where we feel the Pure Retirement Plan wins, in an already competitive equity release marketplace.
First, the Pure Drawdown Plan in Detail
Before we enter the wheres & wherefores of how the Pure Plan fits in with equity release recommendations, let’s look at the Pure Retirement plan facts…
The Pure Retirement Drawdown Plan is the first offering from the new lender formed by funding assistance from equity release brokerage – Age Partnership. This follows the similar relationship that exists between more2life & Key Retirement Solutions and represents a growing trend where brokers have become equity release providers. This similarity is also evidenced from where the funding source is derived, in that Pure Retirement relies also on the same annuity backed insurer to give it the ability to fund its lending – Partnership Assurance.
The Pure Drawdown plan is a lifetime mortgage that starts later in life than most equity release schemes with a minimum age at commencement of 70. It’s aimed towards the higher end of the loan-to-value ratios without any medical underwriting, which the enhanced lifetime mortgage plans have the advantage of.
The starting percentage is 36% of the property value at age 70, which compares favourably with other high LTV products. Albeits not the highest maximum equity release plan out there, it has a neat trick up its sleeve with how it can still compete with these maximum lifetime mortgage plans. Details of how are explained later in this article.
As a member of the Equity Release Council, the Pure Drawdown Plan offers a free no-negative equity guarantee and 100% ownership of the home. Portability enables you to still move house once the plan has been set in force and the interest rate is fixed for life, launched at a reasonably competitive 6.74% monthly rate (7.1% representative APR).
The minimum loan is higher than most at £25,000, which is where Pure Retirement’s market lies and is available in England, Scotland & Wales.
This is a roll-up lifetime mortgage plan with the option of a cash reserve facility. Therefore, Pure Retirement will calculate the maximum release possible, from which an initial amount can be withdrawn. Any funds untaken, remain in a cash reserve held by Pure Retirement at no cost until needed in the future. Should it later be necessary to access these funds, they can be drawndown in minimum amounts of £5,000 with no further charges.
Where Pure Retirement Lifetime Mortgage Strengths Lie
As an independent equity release adviser, one of the most common reasons for client objection lies in the costs of implementing an equity release scheme. Here is where the Pure Drawdown Plan wins – set up costs!
Only one equity release company has previously offered a scheme whereby the standard terms dictate a cost effective route to market for any client taking out a lifetime mortgage, & that’s Partnership’s Enhanced Lifetime Mortgage. Some lenders will temporarily create pockets of time whereby a cashback exists or a reduced interest rate for a limited period, but these come & go.
However, Pure have created these features as a permanent fixture & all credit to them in seeing this gap in the market and understanding what the consumer requires. Afterall, many applicants want a release of equity to help them financially as they have limited funds in the first place. By asking them for more money up front, it makes the process more difficult for them to get the whole application underway. Pure Retirement alleviate these areas, both pre & post application stages, let me explain how and why.
Pure’s Set up Costs
Pure Retirement provide a two tier set up cost operation; one for equity release loans between £25,000 & £44,999, the other based on loans in excess of £45,000.
All equity release schemes will normally incur set up fees in four main areas – Valuation, application, solicitor & adviser charges.
Pure approach this differently in the sense they aim to cover the majority of costs; the more one borrows, the greater the help provided. For loans over £45,000 the cost is enhanced furthermore by them providing: -
- FREE valuation
- NO application fee
- Contribution of £600 towards legal costs
- Contribution of £500 towards the advice fee
Therefore, dependent upon how much the advice fee being charged is, which in the case of Equity Release Supermarket its £895; the net advice fee cost would only be £395. Bearing in mind we can source an ERSA equity release solicitor, for a reasonable £495 + VAT & disbursements (including home visit) the £600 contribution from Pure Retirement should cover this on a standard freehold property. This effectively means to implement a Pure Drawdown Plan with Equity Release Supermarket would only cost approximately £395!
Where Does the Pure Retirement Plan Offer Clients Best Advice?
As previously stated, Pure Retirement Drawdown Plan has been targeted to meet those clients looking towards a maximum equity release in order to assist them with their retirement needs.
A recent example of how the Pure Drawdown Plan can still offer a client a greater net amount, even though the maximum release is lower than a competitor, can be illustrated by a case I recently encountered: -
Pam, aged 79 was looking to move property & required a lifetime mortgage to help her with the purchase. She was in good health & needed the maximum release possible to not only help with the purchase but also the moving costs & legal fees.
The purchase price for the 3 bedroom flat in Cornwall is £140,000.
Pamela requires the maximum release possible which following extensive research would point towards the Just Retirement Lump Sum Plus plan which would release £64,400 at an annual interest rate of 6.75%. This comes with a free valuation, £600 application fee, legal costs & advice fee.
Looking further down our research table identifies the Pure Drawdown Plan with a 6.74% monthly interest rate. However, the maximum release Pure would offer would be a lower amount of £63,000. But upon delving deeper into this product & by analysing the charging structure it shows that the actual Pure Retirement net release could be higher.
Fee Type /Provider
| Just Retirement
Evidently, the Pure Retirement plan has £1700 reduced set up costs, compared to the Just Retirement plan. The next part of this calculation is then offsetting this £1700 advantage that Pure Retirement has against the £1400 extra that Just Retirement can release as their maximum.
The final result therefore shows that Pure Retirement will have a greater net release to Pam of £300 and therefore proceeds with the recommendation as the £300 would be more advantageous in her pocket.
The message therefore is never look at the top line maximum amount, but always to consider any incentives that may help improve the net offering.
Existing Equity Release Customers Looking for Additional Funds
Other areas where Equity Release Supermarket customers have already benefitted from the new Pure Retirement lifetime mortgage is under two scenarios: -
- Where they have an existing equity release plan & need further funds.
- If looking to obtain a lower interest rate, yet no lender can provide sufficient funds to enable the equity release remortgage
Following the routine check to see if any additional borrowings are available with their existing lender, it’s then our duty to research the whole of the market to see if any other equity release providers could assist.
One of the issues against switching equity release schemes is usually the set up costs that prohibit the transfer. Under the two scenarios, in the first the charges could swallow up any of the spare cash being targeted, and in the 2nd scenario the set up costs make any transfer non-profitable as these costs offset any future savings in interest.
Its therefore the case that set up costs can prevent future maneuverability with any home equity scheme.
This is where the Pure Retirement Drawdown Plan can come into its own with its lower set up costs. Under both scenarios, Pure’s reduced set up costs will help with the switching of equity release schemes. Under the 1st scenario it will lead to more funds being available to withdraw & secondly in obtaining a lower interest rate its helps bring forward the break-even point.
Set up costs are an important aspect in the consideration of accepting any equity release recommendation. However, your adviser should consider the whole picture and features necessary in your meeting your requirements. This is why any equity release adviser should be experienced, qualified and importantly independent too.
If you feel that the Pure Drawdown Plan could be of benefit to you, please contact Mark Gregory on 0800 783 9652 or email [email protected].
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By Mark Rumney on March 10th, 2014
Throughout our working lives, retirement always seemed a distant destination. Plans to ensure that financial security is bestowed upon us are often postponed, while more pressing needs are fulfilled. Yes, the date to start a pension or retirement planning was always the proverbial ‘tomorrow’.
Unless you were fortunate enough to become a member of an employer’s final salary scheme, which even today are becoming a rarity, then it’s likely that the penny has dropped and there will ultimately be a reduction in income, once state pension age is reached.
However, all is not lost & although many people haven’t necessarily funded a pension or savings contract for their retirement, they may have inadvertently been savings via their biggest asset…their property!
Should any of these comments strike a chord, then please read on. Using my wealth of financial services & the last 14 equity release experience, I want to explain how your property can become your pension & take you down the road of enhancing your pension in retirement.
The inevitable expense of retirement…
First let’s start by establishing what the perception of retirement is & the future expenditures that maybe incurred during its reign.
These could encompass simple lifestyle costs such as any of the following: -
- A new car?
- Regular holidays?
- Home improvements?
- A caravan or motorhome?
- More leisure time for golf or bowls?
- Enjoy days out?
However, for many the reality of meeting these expenditures becomes a pipe dream as once retired, they could find their income severely reduced. In fact in some cases, pensioners have seen a reduction of two thirds of the income that they enjoyed whilst working. The danger of this becomes apparent. From experience many retirees DO NOT curb spending habits to realign their expenditures following a reduction in income.
This situation has led to a dramatic increase in post-retirement debt counselling, with many building significant credit card debt, which then spirals out of control. During times of employment debt can usually be easier to manage, with the ability to repay using extra hours, bonuses, overtime or even a 2nd job. These options are somewhat reduced for the silver surfer generation, albeit more retirees are considering working, & actually are filling vacancies that once were not considered unnecessary in retirement.
So what are the options, should the over 55’s find themselves with an income shortfall & need advice on their retirement solutions?
Well as stated earlier, your home may have become an extremely valuable asset with potential escalation its value over the decades. So let’s look at how your house could become your pension and provide a level of financial security.
Home equity plans have been around many years, but have never been as popular as they are today, so here I attempt to explain the pros and cons of equity release schemes.
Why do people take out an equity release plan?
More and more people are turning to equity release to fund home improvements, pay off debts and to enjoy holidays, but the underlying reason for this is that their income has reduced so much since they retired, they’re no longer able to save for larger purchases.
Similarly, many retirees are spending their tax free cash from their pensions on larger purchases, such as a new car and conservatory, but are finding that their disposable income has reduced to the extent that there’s hardly anything left each month having paid their household bills and bought their groceries etc.
We’ve all seen in the news that pensions aren’t producing the expected level of income that people hoped for: some final salary pension schemes have closed; annuity rates are historically lower as life expectancy improves; interest rates on savings have flat lined since the economic downturn, with even the highest instant access cash ISA rate only offers 3.02% variable (Newcastle Building Society).
Explore potential sources of additional income
Assuming that you’ve spent your lifetime savings, don’t wish to move or downsize yet, and have exhausted all other alternatives upon discussion with an equity release specialist like Equity Release Supermarket, there’s a number of other alternatives for you to consider:
- The first step should be to check if additional income could be sourced from elsewhere such as local government? Always check whether any means tested state benefits or such as pension credit, or local authority benefits now labelled ‘Council Tax Reduction’ may be available. Please see my recent article on this – ‘Can an Equity Release Adviser Provide Advice on Means Tested State Benefits?‘
- Finally, if you’ve got any existing debts, these could be refinanced & consolidated, potentially leaving you with one lower monthly payment. These savings can then be used towards providing extra income in retirement.
What’s the best way to get an income from equity release?
No current lifetime mortgage providers actually offer a monthly income equity release plan. In fact only one provider ever has; Northern Rock offered an income producing lifetime mortgage. This was pulled once Northern Rock Equity Release (now Papilio UK) was closed to new business during the credit crunch. Even during its lifetime, the Northern Rock Cash-Plus plans were fairly inflexible in the sense that once income was arranged, it was fixed for life and could not be amended.
Nowadays, the majority of equity release applicants would rather have the flexibility of deciding when the take the tax-free cash, not to be dictated to with a fixed income for life. The most prudent & popular way is to use a drawdown equity release scheme. This is available from most lifetime mortgage providers and I can carefully assess which scheme is most suitable for you. By accepting a cash reserve facility from the equity release company, the applicant can then decide how much of this reserve facility they need to spend initially. The remaining balance untaken, is then held by the lender until such time the customer requires further cash drawdown. The beauty of the drawdown lifetime mortgage is that NO interest is charged whilst monies are left with the provider.
Let’s look at a couple that I met recently and witness how a drawdown equity release scheme works in practice:-
Case Study – ‘asset rich, income poor’
Jim & Mary, both aged 70, own a property worth £250,000 and are both retired. They manage reasonably well from their pension income, but this only pays for their normal day to living expenditure and they’re unable to afford the small luxuries in retirement that they’d always dreamed of. They’d like an extra income each year to pay for regular meals out, a cruise each year plus they like exploring National Trust type properties and country villages.
The solution: They’re able to release the minimum loan of £15,000 which will easily cover their first 2 years of expenditure as they also need to use £5,000 for a new bathroom. In order to supplement their on-going income needs they’d like £4,000 ‘spending money’ each year. With the versatility of the Hodge Flexible Lifetime Mortgage Plan, they’re able to achieve this as Hodge would set up a reserve of £55,000 that can be accessed at any time, with a minimum withdrawal amount of £1,000. These extra withdrawals attract NO further charges.
Jim described this as ‘like having a bank account with £55,000 in it.’ The benefits to Jim & Mary are that none of this £55,000 reserve facility attracts any interest until it’s actually taken. They plan to withdraw around £4,000 a year for approx. 10 years, whilst they’re fit and healthy to enjoy it. The Hodge Lifetime Flexible Mortgage Plan comes with a free valuation offer currently.
When equity release should NOT be used to create an income!
Some equity release customers in the past have been advised to release the maximum lump sum from their property and reinvest into an investment product. Problems have arisen, as the income has reduced and the investment has often dropped in value, while interest on the equity release has rolled up and provided poor value for money.
Similarly, some customers previously released a lump sum to buy an annuity but it has proved difficult to get a good income from a relatively small lump sum. It normally takes considerable time to benefit from a pension annuity, but interest will have been charged on the full amount of equity that you originally released from your home.
Other customers have taken the maximum lump sum from their home and invested into deposit accounts or investment bonds, but have been dismayed with plummeting interest rates. With interest rates on equity release loans currently averaging over 6%, yet the best savings rates currently only 3%, this obviously represents poor value for money & certainly not best advice.
These are NOT ways that equity release mortgages should be utilised and why the drawdown lifetime mortgage scheme is the correct vehicle to use.
What are the main advantages of a drawdown scheme versus a maximum lump sum plan?
- Interest isn’t charged on the reserve amount, until you decide to take it
- You can withdraw money from the reserve at any time
- No further charges for each withdrawal made (except New Life & more2life)
- Limiting your savings in the bank, can help eligibility for means tested benefits
- The less money you borrow, the less interest your beneficiaries will need to repay when the plan ends
How much can I release under a Drawdown equity release scheme?
The amount depends on a number of factors, including property value, age of the youngest applicant and property type. With recent innovations in equity release schemes there is now an enhanced drawdown lifetime mortgage plan which can offer a greater cash reserve facility for those with a history of poor health, yet requiring the maximum cash facility available.
Equity Release Supermarket’s free equity release calculator found here our website can certainly assist in helping to ascertain the maximum equity release possible. This will provide a guideline which can then be qualified further by myself dependent upon your financial requirements, both now & in the future.
Therefore, please contact myself, Mark Rumney for your personalised illustration. Your request can be discussed over the telephone & once I have identified your requirements & checked eligibility. Following that, I can conveniently post or email out the best recommended scheme for your needs.
To follow up any aspects of this article, please contact me via my mobile 07957 974826 or email [email protected]
By Pat Dolan on February 26th, 2014
One of the most common questions we get asked as equity release advisers is whether a lifetime mortgage is ‘flexible’ enough to meet any future change in circumstances?
Having reached retirement, experience has taught us all that life can be full of surprises and quite rightly this question is always high on the agenda.
This article has been written using my 10 years equity release experience & how I have helped guide my clients towards their ultimate goals, but at the same time alleviating any inhibitions surrounding equity release and moving home in the future.
The most common apprehensions regarding flexibility and moving or buying a new home can be summarised as follows:
- Can I move home if I have already taken out an equity release plan?
- Can I use equity release to purchase a new property
- How much can I raise on a new home using maximum equity release schemes?
- Can I transfer my existing equity release scheme to a new home?
- Can I still take out equity release if I downsize?
- If moving house, is it worthwhile transferring, or taking out a new plan?
So how does an equity release adviser dispel the fears and help their clients overcome the concerns that a release of equity mustn’t feel like a noose around their neck?
Considerations on Moving Home from an Equity Release Advisers Point of View
When we consider the question of a possible future house move, we can divide this into three very different scenarios; each one deserving separate consideration in its own right: -
- The first equity release scenario captures the proposition of using a lifetime mortgage, or home reversion plan to help fund the purchase of a new house
- The 2nd situation analyses the advice & legal process required when purchasing or moving home, utilising an existing equity release plan.
- Lastly, we explain the advisers perspective on what options are available to a client with their existing equity release mortgage, upon moving home
Scenario 1 – Can I use Equity Release to help fund a house purchase?
An increasing number of enquiries seem to be coming in from people who are looking to move home, and this can be for various reasons. Some are looking to move nearer to their family for support, others are looking to downsize to repay loans and mortgages. Still others simply want to buy that bungalow they had always dreamed of for when they retired.
In the majority of cases, the best way to use equity release schemes to help fund a house purchase is to transact them simultaneously. This means involving an equity release application to be used as part of the legal process to buy. Consider this theory as exactly the same principle as using a conventional residential mortgage to help buy a new property.
In essence, by taking equity release at the same time as house purchase will save money by not duplicating the legal work, should a release of equity be needed at a later date. The rationale is that only one set of legals are required should equity release & the purchase be transacted simultaneously. However, if a release of equity is taken post purchase, then two set of legal costs are incurred; at the time of the house purchase, but then again later when equity release is done in isolation.
The rules are fairly straightforward, whether you use a lifetime mortgage or a home reversion plan for this purpose. A given percentage of the value of the proposed purchase property would be made available, depending on the age of the youngest applicant, and some or this entire figure would be sent to the conveyancer on the day of purchase to enable completion to take place.
Mr & Mrs Townley are aged 65 and looking to buy a property nearer to their daughter at a cost of £200,000. Their own home has been sold for £180,000 and, bearing in mind the additional costs involved, they feel they would need a further £30,000 to complete the purchase.
Following research, their lifetime mortgage adviser has recommended the Aviva Lifestyle Flexible Option where they could release upto 25% of the value of their new property. This potentially could provide them with a maximum release of £50,000.
They decided that they only want £30,000 of this for now but, as they don’t know what the future may hold, they ask for a cash reserve facility to be set up so that they could access the other £20,000 in the future, just in case they need it later.
Scenario 2 – Can I move home AFTER releasing equity on my home?
This is a different question altogether, but is definitely another one that comes up most of the time. Most people want to know before they enter into an equity release agreement, what would happen if they moved home in the future? This could be downsizing when one partner is left on their own, or moving into sheltered accommodation, if health dictates it becomes necessary.
First of all it is important to acknowledge that any lender that is a member of the Equity Release Council (which recently replaced SHIP) will allow the transfer of an equity release plan to a new, suitable property. Portability is an important facet of all equity release schemes.
Important considerations for anyone releasing equity include what they think MAY happen, or which is MOST LIKELY, as none of us know what’s around the corner.
If downsizing is the most likely outcome, then it should be very easy to find a lender that will allow this with the facility to move the equity release plan at the same time. A valuation would be carried out on the new property and the maximum configured equity release would be calculated. Having access to a lifetime mortgage calculator would be an advantage.
If the amount currently owed, is in excess of the maximum amount available for release on the new property, then the excess would need to be repaid from the profit made through selling and buying the cheaper property.
Of course some people want to have the flexibility of repaying the loan in full if they downsize later on and this is where some care is needed from outset to ensure this is possible.
As lenders become more attuned to what is important to equity release customers we are seeing some innovative thinking and I for one hope that this is a trend that will continue to grow over the coming years.
Scenario 3 – What should I do with an existing equity release if I want to downsize or purchase new?
This scenario is a continuation of the previous section, albeit taking into account in greater detail the options available & what should be done with an old equity release plan. It would be amiss of any adviser to automatically assume it would be in the client’s best interest to port an old lifetime mortgage or home reversion plan to the new property.
This is a key opportunity for an overall review of the older plan to establish its competitiveness in today’s equity release environment. From my experience of working at Norwich Union Equity Release (latterly Aviva), I am aware of older legacy equity release plans that in today’s world are outdated and uncompetitive.
My Experience of Norwich Union’s Legacy Equity Release Plans
The forerunner of all of Aviva’s equity release plans was called the Capital Access Plan. The Norwich Union Capital Access Plan had an interest rate, not charged against the balance, but calculated against the property value escalating over time. People with these plans who have seen a large increase in property value, will also had seen a proportionate increase in their equity release balance.
Another legacy plan which is no longer available is the Norwich Union Index-Linked Cash Release Plan. This a scheme which offered a maximum equity release lump sum from age 55, but with an interest rate linked to Retail Price Index (RPI). This Index Linked Cash Release Plan had a minimum interest rate of 4.89%, rising to a maximum rate of 10.14%. The calculated rate was dependent upon on the annual change in RPI which was then added to the minimum rate of 4.89%. Hence, this scheme did not provide as much certainty as today’s lifetime mortgage fixed rates.
From thereon in, Norwich Union or Aviva Lifetime Mortgage schemes had interest rates over 8%pa and potential early repayment charges of 100% of the original balance borrowed. Its schemes such as these that need assessing as to whether they should continue, or if favourable, could be repaid upon sale & a new plan taken upon simultaneous purchase of the new property. With rates today from Aviva as low as 5.68% annual, it could make sound financial sense to consider a new scheme which could save many £1,000’s over time by switching.
Free Initial Consultation
It is therefore essential for an experienced independent equity release adviser to undertake a full review of the entire situation & provide an impartial recommendation as to what is best advice moving forward. This will involve requesting an upto redemption statement from the existing lender, analysing the existing scheme & importantly assessing all the features including potential early repayment charges.
Equity Release schemes that were taken out some time ago are usually not as competitive, or flexible as plans around today, given the period of low interest rates incumbent over the last 2-3 years.
I would advise ANYONE thinking of moving to take advice as it may well be cheaper to change lender than staying with your current one and transferring your plan to the new property. The only way of finding this out is to take advice from an Independent Equity Release Adviser that is able to research the WHOLE of the market. By conducting a switch plans analysis, Equity Release Supermarket can address whether it would be worthwhile, or not, to switch equity release plans when moving home.
Examples of lenders already attuned to the option of downsizing – Hodge Lifetime
At the moment if anyone is thinking of downsizing in the future and repaying their equity release plan in full, then serious consideration should be given to a new plan such as the Hodge Lifetime Flexible Mortgage Plan.
This plan allows the borrower to repay the whole amount WITHOUT PENALTY if they decide to move home & downsize, as long as this is at least 5 years after inception of the plan.
Alongside this downsizing protection option is the fact that, if something unforeseen should happen and you need to move and repay during the first 5 years then the Hodge Lifetime penalty for doing so would be capped at 5% of the initial release in year 1, 4% in year 2, 3% in year 3, 2% in year 4 and then 1% in year 5. Significantly, the Hodge Lifetime penalty is more favourable than many of the gilt linked product related early repayment charges.
I believe this gives an added degree of flexibility for equity release consumers, and I hope it’s an indication that lenders are changing the way they change tact & begin providing greater flexibility as the need to move home in the future increases.
The fact remains that it is possible to move home and it’s imperative that you get the right advice when considering equity release initially AND when thinking of a house move as well.
It is probably one of the most important decisions you will make financially, as the decision you make now will not only impact on your future, but also your children & grandchildren’s future.
These are the reasons why we at Equity Release Supermarket always offer a free, no obligation, initial consultation which can be in the comfort of your own home or over the telephone, whichever is preferable.
This initial consultation gives us the chance to ask our clients about their objectives as well as their future plans, so that we can tailor any Equity Release scheme we recommend to each individual set of circumstances.
For your FREE, NO OBLIGATION, initial consultation (whether it’s your first time or if you want to review your current scheme) please call Pat on 07952 367863 or e-mail [email protected]
By Mark Rumney on December 18th, 2013
During 13 years of giving equity release advice, one of the first questions I ask new clients is whether they receive any means tested benefits or not. It’s a crucial part of the advice process as a professional adviser needs to check what impact, if any, equity release might have on vital state benefits that they receive.
It’s also really important to find out the exact income of every client to check for potential means tested benefit entitlement. I’ve interviewed equity release clients who didn’t even realise their entitlement and thereafter have subsequently made a successful claim which has led to extra available income.
How do I check to see if I’m eligible for benefits?
I would strongly recommend anyone who is about to retire, or is already retired, call the pension credit Freephone number to check for eligibility on 0800 991234 to get their situation individually assessed. You can also click on the attached link: https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit-calculator to check your eligibility online.
Similarly, you should also call your local council tax benefit enquiry helpline number to check for council tax benefit. The telephone number will be on your last annual statement. Usually, if you qualify for pension credit you should also be able to get a reduction of some or all of your council tax benefit.
As a part of my recommendation process, I would fully assess your financial situation which would also include reviewing your means tested benefits during our meetings. As the initial consultation is free, I place no financial burden on you, so use my experience to the maximum & see if there are further entitlements you could claim.
Qualification rules and how much benefit can I receive?
The earliest age you can qualify for pension credit was aged 60, but this is gradually increasing to age 66 from 2020. For tax year 2013/2014 pension credit should be available if a single person’s income is less than £145.40 per week, or £222.05 for a married couple. Your savings can also impact your eligibility for pension credit and council tax benefit but the relevant agencies do ignore the first £10,000 of savings that you hold. Savings between £10,000 and £16,000 can still mean that you receive some benefits but savings in excess of £16,000 normally mean you’re not entitled to any benefits.
From age 65 you may also be entitled to savings credit of up to £18.06 for single person and £22.89 for a married couple. You might be eligible for this as long as your income is less than £190 per week for a single person or £279 per week for a married couple.
Will I lose my benefits if I take a release of equity?
With advice from a skilled adviser at Equity Release Supermarket, you shouldn’t normally lose any benefits. If you’re already receiving means tested benefits and you’re thinking of equity release it’s best to have your situation analysed by finding a qualified equity release adviser. I also suggest that you contact the pension credit and council tax benefit helplines to discuss your situation. However, the rule of thumb is that if after releasing equity your savings are less than £10,000 your benefits shouldn’t be affected. Equity Release can be carefully planned to ensure that this this remains the case.
Let’s look at recent clients I’ve met and provided lifetime mortgage advice to:
Brian was aged 65 and his home was worth £200,000. He wanted to release equity of £20,000 to buy a new car and bathroom but he was in receipt of pension credit and council tax benefit. As Brian was spending the money straight away there wasn’t any changes to his benefits, as he only kept his existing savings of £5,000 in the bank. He released £20,000 on the Aviva Lifestyle Flexi Plan and also had another £23,500 available in the reserve facility we created by recommending a drawdown equity release lifetime mortgage. Again, this money in his reserve doesn’t impact his benefits as it falls below the £10,000 limit imposed. He can thereafter take small amounts of at least £2,000 whenever it’s needed. This will mean that his savings are still kept below £10,000 and therefore not affect his benefits.
Terry & Margaret were both aged 67 and their home was worth £180,000. When they retired 2 years ago, Terry received a tax free lump sum from his pension which paid for a new car, a conservatory and they had a couple of holidays, but were left with less than £2,000 in the bank. They were in receipt of pension credit and council tax benefit. They could manage on their income but wanted funds to pay for a new kitchen costing £5,000 and wanted money for holidays over the next 10 years. Although they could release over a one off lump sum of around £50,000 from various equity release providers this would have proved catastrophic as they would have lost their entitlement to their much needed benefits. This is where careful planning by an equity release adviser can help. Instead they took out a drawdown lifetime mortgage with an initial loan of £10,000 to pay for their kitchen and for 2 holidays. They were also able to set up a reserve of capital of £41,000 with New Life and will be able to release regular withdrawals of at least £5,000 to fund their future holidays. This doesn’t have any affect on their benefits.
Additional lenders offering drawdown equity release schemes are Hodge Lifetime whom allow further withdrawals of £1,000, with Just Retirement, LV= and Aviva having a minimum of £2,000 cash reserve withdrawal limit.
Please remember that state benefits rules can change at any time. Special rules apply to making gifts with equity release. The benefit figures above relate to tax year 2013/14 & maybe subject to change.
How do I get more information on equity release and state benefits?
Whenever you consider equity release it’s important to get a fully authorised equity release adviser to carefully check your situation regarding means tested benefits, as well as checking overall suitability of the schemes.
Here at Equity Release Supermarket, we’re able to help you with this during our meetings. We do not charge for your initial consultation which can be conducted either in the comfort of your own home or over the telephone, to suit.
Please feel free to contact myself if you have any queries on equity release schemes and how they could affect your state benefits. My name is Mark Rumney & can be contacted on mobile 07957 974826 or email [email protected]
By Mike Vicary on October 24th, 2013
A new and rather unusual expression has recently emerged which is the term – ‘silver splitters’. It hasn’t made the Oxford Concise Dictionary yet, but I suspect it’s just a matter of time!
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the year 2011 reveal that 8% of all men divorcing in the UK were aged 60 and over. The equivalent figure for women aged 60 and over was 5%. Compare this to 2001 when these figures were 4.6% and 2.6% respectively.
While overall figures for divorce have been falling, divorce amongst the retired and elderly have been increasing significantly, resulting in financially strained circumstances for many at a time when they should be enjoying life.
This increase in the number of silver splitters appears to be the result of the ‘baby boomer’ generation reaching retirement, experiencing the empty nest syndrome with children departed, looking at each other and deciding that they have little in common. Matters take their course and separation is followed by divorce.
Next follows the murky area known to the legal profession as ‘ancillary relief’ which is quite separate from the divorce itself (or ) and is concerned with the financial settlement between the parties. In the absence of an amicable agreement the family court can dictate how the assets in the marriage are shared out, and that includes the matrimonial home irrespective of whose name is on the deeds.
This is where help from equity release can come into play to facilitate the financing of any payment between the divorced parties and to alleviate the prospect of poverty and homelessness for either ex-spouse.
Silver Splitters Case Study
Let us take an example. A couple, both aged 65, jointly own a property valued at £300,000 and they have paid off their mortgage. They decide to divorce but the wife wishes to remain in the family home and as the split is amicable the husband is willing to accommodate her wishes, but in exchange for a cash payment. By applying for a lifetime mortgage at the age of 65 the wife can raise up to 30% of the value of the home, i.e. £90,000. The property is transferred into her sole name and simultaneously the lifetime mortgage proceeds of £90,000 are paid over to the husband.
This leaves the husband with £90,000 cash which he can use as a deposit on a property for himself. Being 65 he can also raise a 30% lifetime mortgage on his new home and this enables him to buy a property for say £128,500 (i.e. cash £90,000=70% and lifetime mortgage 30%=£38,500).
Alternatively, if both parties in my example agreed to sell the matrimonial home and split the proceeds equally then prospects look brighter. With say £150,000 each as a deposit and with a 30% contribution from a lifetime mortgage, my divorced couple would each be looking to buy new homes in the region of £214,000. (These examples do not take fees into account but these would be roughly £1,800 for both parties, plus moving costs).
The husband and wife could have two options on the types of equity release schemes available. They could elect to make no further payments to make for life and opt for the roll-up lifetime mortgage which would see the balance increasing yearly.
Alternatively, they can apply to take out an interest only lifetime mortgage and repay the monthly interest which would render the lifetime mortgage balance the same throughout. This is ideal should they be considering leaving a fixed inheritance for their beneficiaries.
How is the equity release mortgage repaid?
Dependent on which type of lifetime mortgage is selected, the final balance is usually upon repayment of the loan and any accrued interest takes place on death, entry into residential care or earlier sale of the property.
And the option to avoid monthly interest payments could be very attractive to divorced ex-spouses on reduced pension incomes. This is maybe the reason why the roll-up equity release types are the most popular?
Equity release is increasingly being used to fund divorce settlements, either by the parties themselves or by concerned parents. If you find yourself in a similar situation in experiencing divorce in retirement and need financial advice on how to separate the matrimonial home then please contact Mike Vicary of Equity Release Supermarket on 07795 195302.
All discussions will be kept in strictest confidence and any initial consultation will be FREE of charge. I look forward to speaking with you.
e: [email protected]
m: 07795 195302