Equity Release Latest News

The Importance of Annual Equity Release Reviews

By Mark Rumney on October 23rd, 2014

 

Feefo 100% Trust equity release reviews

 

It’s always a thrill to call my clients when their equity release application finally completes. That’s the time when they’ll receive their equity release proceeds and have the necessary funds to meet their objectives, such as home improvements, new car, helping their family or simply repaying debts. Although the application process has now completed, it’s actually the start of what should be a long relationship between the client and myself.

 

 

How Equity Release Supermarket can assist…

 

Here at Equity Release Supermarket we pride ourselves on the quality of our whole service proposition. Therefore, following completion of any application we always invite our customers to provide feedback as a measure of how their equity release has been handled. An equity release application can take on average between 6-8 weeks and during that time there are many steps we manage on behalf of our clients to make sure it’s transpires as smooth and as quickly as possible.

 

Our feedback request starts at the first stage of the equity release process which is where we provide the independent equity release advice governed by the regulation of the Financial Conduct Authority and following the Equity Release Council’s code of conduct. Thereafter, we ask for feedback regarding our administration team who process the cases and manage liaison between the client & solicitor & the lender. This aspect is of paramount importance to us as this governs the speed & efficiency of the whole application.

 

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and its testament to the fact Equity Release Supermarket received the prestigious Feefo 100% Trusted Merchant Award for 2013. In fact during 2014 we are still on track for 100% positive Feefo reviews from our clients. By visiting the www.equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk website & clicking on the Feefo logo you can read how our customers view our excellent service & shows how our advisers will go that extra yard in order to provide their clients with our excellent customer service proposition.

 

As an example, one such review I received recently was as follows: –

‘I was really impressed how quickly Mark Rumney sorted things out for me and even though he was going on holiday this did not stop him. He made sure that everything was in place for me before he went, even well into the evening. So thank you Mark and I would definitely recommend your services.’

 

Continually Innovating – Equity Release

 

Today’s equity release schemes are very flexible, and clients circumstances can change, therefore I like to call clients annually to touch base, remind them of their options and review their situation. During the annual review I like to: –

 

  • Remind clients of the ability to make voluntary interest payments
  • Check whether any new products may be more suitable
  • Check whether interest rates have reduced and are still competitive
  • Check that interest only lifetime mortgage schemes are still affordable

 

Let’s look at each of these in turn…

 

Voluntary Interest Payments:

Both Aviva & Hodge Lifetime have equity release schemes which allow you to make voluntary interest payments of up to 10% of the original loan amount, once schemes have been in place for 12 months. This can dramatically reduce the outstanding balance at the end of the term, so it’s important we remind our clients of this and explain the mechanics of how they make ad-hoc payments to their lender.

 

New products:

New providers and products are often launched which may prove more suitable, although you need specialist advice when considering switching schemes. I offer a free initial consultation to complete a switch plan analysis in order to determine whether it is best advice to switch equity release plans.

 

For example, Pure Retirement launched a drawdown lifetime mortgage plan in 2014, which tends to offer the highest reserve on the market, with the possibility of receiving £1,100 in cashback that can cover all the remaining set up costs. This may therefore appeal to customers of older equity release schemes, as they can possibly switch to a lower rate at the same time as have a new cash reserve facility for future use.

 

We are also starting to come across former Halifax Retirement Home Plan mortgage customers where Halifax/Scottish Widows have declined further borrowings due to the new MMR rules on affordability. Fortunately, we have assisted some of these retirees with the new ‘interest servicing’ products from the likes of Stonehaven, More2life & the Hodge Retirement Mortgage. All these plans could be made available following a full equity release review, where if appropriate we can find a scheme that allows further funds to be made available.

 

Lower Interest Rates:

There are legacy equity release schemes out there from companies that formerly offered lifetime mortgages. These companies, however have since stopped offering new lifetime mortgage or home reversion plans. These equity release companies can include Norwich Union (now Aviva), Prudential, NatWest Equity Release, Portman etc.

 

Another legacy equity release scheme we commonly come across is Papilio UK Equity Release (formerly Northern Rock), where many existing customers could benefit from new equity release plans that offer lower interest rates. There are ex-Northern Rock customers that are being charged over 7% with Papilio UK. The Aviva Flexi Lifetime Mortgage Plan can currently offer equity release interest rates as low at 5.63% (5.83% representative APR). By switching equity release schemes I have saved my clients £1000’s in compound interest over the longer term. A good deal for them & their beneficiaries!

 

Check ongoing affordability

Some of my clients have taken out a lifetime interest only mortgage with either Stonehaven or More2Life. They’ve chosen to pay a fixed monthly payment for the duration of the plan. However, both plans offer the flexibility of being able to stop payments at any time and let the interest roll up. Similarly, with the Hodge Retirement Mortgage you’re also able to switch to rolled up interest when the younger borrower reaches aged 80. These are things that should always be discussed at annual reviews.

 

Overall, the annual review call that I make to clients can be really worthwhile. It’s always nice hearing how they’ve spent and enjoyed their money. It’s usually another common time when they ask me to call one of their friends and family who’d also benefit from my specialist advice, as their friends and family have seen how equity release has changed their lives.

 

Other areas where I receive many calls from existing clients, which impact the need for further equity release advice, can include:

 

  • Moving House
  • Death of one borrower
  • Additional borrowing

 

Looking at these in turn…

 

Moving House:

Most equity release schemes are flexible and allow you to move at any time. However, advice is needed with regards to value of you property you can move into. You’re also able to repay most schemes early but this could be subject to a variable, or fixed, early repayment charge.

 

Death of a borrower:

It’s obviously a distressing time when you lose a loved one. I often receive calls from the survivor asking what options they have or what happens next. I’m able to answer their queries and explain the simple process of informing the lender. The main query is whether the survivor can remain in the family home, where the answer is usually yes.

 

Additional Borrowing:

Most lifetime mortgage schemes are set up with an automatic drawdown facility where you can contact the lender when you need funds from an agreed reserve at outset. However, once this is exhausted, or if you’ve got an older scheme without a reserve facility, I often get telephone calls to check eligibility for additional borrowing. Here we can help & contact the lender to check whether further funds could be made available from the equity release company.

 

Summary

Remember, equity release schemes are designed as lifetime mortgage contracts and therefore you need to review your situation regularly. I pride myself in offering this unique bespoke service and many of my customers can vouch for the benefits.

 

Should you feel you may benefit from an equity release review of your existing plan, please contact me – Mark Rumney DipPFS CeMAP on: –

 

m: 07957 974826 or

e: [email protected]

Revealed – How the Bank of Mum & Dad use Equity Release to Fund 1st Time Buyers

By Cathy Miller on July 5th, 2014

Bank of Mum & Dad

 

It has recently come to my attention, having watched my own daughter attempt to buy her 1st property, how difficult it has become for 1st time buyers to fulfil their dreams of becoming a homeowner.

 

It also occurred to me that EQUITY RELEASE could in fact play a significant role in assisting the “Bank of Mum and Dad” and others in providing funds to enable these dreams to come true.

 

First some FACTS:

  • The average age for 1st time buyers is now 29
  • 2/3rds of 1st time buyers now turn to the Bank of Mum and Dad (BoMAD) for help
  • 30 years ago 12% of income was needed for a deposit on a property. Today this is staggering 82%!
  • The cost of an average house in the UK is 10 times bigger than the average salary rising to 14 times in London
  • In all but 2 regions in the UK, prices are 7 or more times the average salary for that area (Office of National Statistics)
  • More than 3.3 million 20-34 year olds were still living with their parents in 2013

 

Although these figures clearly indicate it is becoming almost impossible for 1st time buyers to get on the property ladder, help could be at hand – YES, from the “Bank of Mum and Dad”

 

Parents are an obvious first point of call. However with rising living costs, low interest rates and diminishing savings pots, it has become increasingly more difficult for mum and dad to find surplus funds to gift to their children, grandchildren or loved ones, to assist in fulfilling the dream of property ownership.

 

However, there could be a way to take an early inheritance from parents now in order to benefit 1st time buyers when the money is needed the most!

 

A special type of retirement mortgage commonly known as Equity Release could potentially unlock cash tied up in a parent’s property. This can enable mum & dad to generate sufficient funds to gift as a deposit on a property purchase for their loved ones.

 

What is equity release?

Equity release schemes are available in two formats – home reversion & the more popular lifetime mortgage. Both of these equity release schemes enable people who own their main residence to release a percentage of its value in return for a tax-free cash lump sum. These two types of equity release mortgages then run for the rest of your life & only repaid once upon death or moving into long term care.

 

The equity release scheme known as a lifetime mortgage has proven the most popular due to its flexibility. This has been strengthened this year with providers such as Hodge Lifetime & Aviva both providing an option to repay upto 10% of the original capital borrowed each year. Therefore, control over its final balance, or even repayment of the whole scheme over the longer term could represent a serious possibility, for either parents to pay, or the children themselves!

 

Lifetime mortgages are available to those aged 55+, with a minimum property value of £60,000. The amount that can be borrowed is not always based on affordability, but on factors such as age & property value. Effectively, the older you are, the greater amount of equity you can release.

 

Following a release of the equity, the lifetime mortgage company places a first legal charge on the property. This is exactly the same as any conventional mortgage and 100% legal ownership is still retained by the client providing peace of mind.

 

Typically, someone age 60 could release equity of between 18-25.5% of the value of the property, dependent on the lender concerned. These equity release funds can be spent on anything you like, however a sensible & cautious approach is always advised. Therefore, parents looking to assist their children onto the property ladder, a lifetime mortgage could prove an effective mortgage vehicle to achieve this goal.

 

Which equity release schemes can help 1st time buyers?

Equity release schemes have become a lot more flexible and innovative these days. You can choose to make NO repayments and have the interest added to the loan which is known as a roll-up lifetime mortgage. The amount borrowed plus any interest accrued is repaid upon sale of the property. This would happen on death (last death if joint plan) or having to go into long term permanent care. Thought must be given here should there be more than one beneficiary. With an increasing balance & possibly reducing net equity figure, consideration must be afforded to any remaining beneficiaries as to what they may potentially receive at the end of the day?

 

However, there are new repayment versions of equity release schemes that have proven even more popular with parents looking to securely gift money to their children to help with a property purchase.

 

Interest only lifetime mortgages from Stonehaven & more2life will allow the repayment of just the interest only element. By repaying interest charged each month prevents the loan from increasing and thus remains level for the rest of the mortgagor’s life. This is a great idea when there is more than one child involved. The problem has always been how to separate the gift now, from the overall inheritance at the end of the day if more than one child is involved?

 

The solution is having an interest only lifetime mortgage. By knowing in advance what the balance will be, this loan amount can be deducted from that child’s share of the inheritance at the end of the day. This would be even fairer for the other siblings, should that child also pay the monthly premiums on behalf of the Bank of Mum & Dad!

 

NEW -Voluntary partial repayment plans

Equity Release Supermarket now has access to specialist equity release schemes where there is the option to repay up to 10% of the original capital released each year without any early repayment charges. These equity release schemes through Aviva & Hodge Lifetime have proved popular for those not just looking to repay the interest, but also the opportunity to repay the equity release scheme in full over approximately 16-17 years. These voluntary partial repayment equity release schemes are proving to be the next generation of the equity release market.

 

How is the Bank of Mum & Dad protected?

All the equity release schemes we recommend are members of the Equity Release Council, which means that there are certain guarantees built into them for consumer protection. As a minimum the Equity Release Council will ensure the following guarantees are included:-

  • The schemes are portable and can be transferred to another qualifying property should you wish to move in the future
  • There is a no-negative equity guarantee which means a debt cannot be left to your estate even if the value of the property becomes less than the balance of the loan outstanding
  • You can live in your house for as long as you wish and with a lifetime mortgage you retain full ownership
  • They can be repaid at any time, subject to potential early repayment charges

 

Benefits of using Equity Release

Contrary to directly gifting your property to your children, by using equity release to gift instead, would avoid any Capital Gains Tax as the main residence is retained by the client. There could still be a potential Inheritance Tax liability, but only if the client died within 7 years of the gift.

 

The lifetime mortgage would be a deductible liability against the client’s estate, reducing the value being taxed and although interest would have to be paid on the loan; this could still prove beneficial to both the client and those receiving the gift. Always consult a tax expert on these matters in conjunction with your independent equity release adviser.

 

Of course let’s not forget the best part of this!

 

The potential to fulfil the dreams of our loved ones in an age where quite frankly, property purchase is almost becoming nothing more than just a dream for some. The joys of parenthood!

 

Next Steps…

I would be delighted to offer a FREE initial consultation to discuss any of the above matters relating to how equity release can help your children step onto the property ladder.

 

Please call me on 07788 605620 or 0203 7517228 or email [email protected]

Aviva introduce two new flexible mortgage options for its equity release schemes in 2014

By Mark Gregory on June 1st, 2014

Aviva Flexible Lifetime Mortgage options

We have recently discussed the merits of the new 10% repayment option which are part of Aviva’s new range of flexible mortgage options that have been incorporated into the Aviva Lifestyle Flexi Plan & Lump Sum Max – Now Aviva Accept Voluntary Repayments – Does this Change the Future of Equity Release?

 

These new flexible repayment features provide customers with the ability to manage the future balance of their equity release schemes. However, further additions have been made which are a credit to the forward thinking of Aviva’s hierarchy.

 

The two further equity release options now included into both plans are the enhanced lifetime mortgage option and an early repayment exemption charge.

Let’s look at each option individually and understand why & how each new feature could potentially benefit future Aviva equity release plan holders.

  1. Enhanced Lifetime Mortgage Option

Previously, only the Aviva Lump Sum Max plan had the enhanced (also known as impaired lifetime mortgage) equity release facility. This means that anyone who has a history, or has medical records indicating they meet a list of qualifying illnesses could benefit from uplift in the maximum equity release lump sum they could receive.

 

However, Aviva has now put a reverse spin on how this equity release enhancement can work. Rather than the enhancement working to increase the maximum lump sum, they have reversed this by applying a twist on how the enhancement can operate. Therefore, on the revised Aviva Lifestyle Flexi plan now, should illness permit qualification for enhanced terms, then the interest rate will be REDUCED. Consequently, retirees looking for a release of equity & qualify for enhanced terms will receive a lower interest rate than the normal equity release rate.

 

No enhanced mortgage company has considered this approach previously, so why does Aviva now & how does this work?

Qualification rules for the enhanced lifestyle flexi plan

Firstly, Aviva will request a Health & Lifestyle Questionnaire be completed which will ask questions to ascertain eligibility for enhanced terms. Such health questions include:

 

  • Height & weight including Body Mass Index
  • Do you smoke more than 10 cigarettes a day?
  • Have high blood pressure?
  • Suffer from diabetes & take medication?
  • Had angina or suffered a stroke?
  • Had cancer in the last 5 years requiring chemotherapy
  • Suffer from Parkinsons disease or dementia
  • Kidney, heart, lung, liver problems
  • Retirement from work early due to medical reasons

 

Should any of these, or combination of these establish qualification for enhanced rates then a Key Facts Illustration can be generated by your equity release adviser. If terms are then acceptable & an application follows, then as part of the enhanced lifetime mortgage application process Aviva will clarify with your doctor whether your stated health issues are on your medical records. No medical examination will be required.

 

Whereas previously the minimum rate for the Aviva Lifestyle Flexi was 5.68%, if enhanced terms are available due to ill-health, then the rate can be reduced by a further 0.05% to just 5.63% (rate @1.6.14). Not a significant reduction it may seem, however considering roll-up of the interest and the compounding nature of the future balance this could save your beneficiaries a considerable sum of money in their future inheritance.

 

Therefore, in summary a lower equity release interest rate can be achieved by qualifying for enhanced terms due to poor health on the Aviva Lifestyle Flexi plan which also comes with the drawdown option. Possibly the best equity release plan in the current marketplace due to the extra low interest rate, cashback of £1000, free valuation, drawdown facility & the strength of the Aviva brand.

 

*A point to note here is that not all companies offer the same enhanced rates. Check you can at least obtain rates that are independent & NOT from Aviva direct as they will not be lower than companies such as Equity Release Supermarkets.

 

  1. Early repayment charge exemption

Since I originally advised on Aviva’s equity release plans almost 15 years ago, there has always been a stigma attached to their calculation of early repayment charges which can be upto a maximum of 25% of the original amount borrowed. The link with government gilt rates can be also confusing to many customers when calculating how they work in practice. Nevertheless a qualified equity release adviser should be able to assist with such calculations.

 

News stories have also highlighted cause for concern with potential early repayment charges. These charges have always been shown on their Key Facts documents, however occasionally situations can arise whereby even the flexible nature of these schemes cannot compensate for some unfortunate scenarios.

 

One notable example of this was the news story where someone needed to move into long term care with their partner following in order to provide their care in the home. This left them with an empty home and little option other than needing to sell up as they cannot rent out or leave the property unattended. With this being forced on them, they could incur a hefty penalty for repaying the equity release loan early based on the ruling that the partner did not need to move into care aswell.

 

Welcome changes to Aviva’s early repayment charges

Following examples of unfortunate events as previous which hit the tabloids, Aviva have since changed their plans to account for such scenarios and this is welcomed.

 

On plans now, the rules have changed should clients with a joint Aviva lifetime mortgage need to repay the loan due to death or moving into a long-term care facility. If such an event occurs Aviva will now allow repayment of the lifetime mortgage free of any early repayment charge. However, the condition is that this is actioned within THREE years of one of the client’s death or the date Aviva is advised that one of the mortgagors requires long-term care.

 

Therefore, in the above scenario their plight would have be accounted for and NO early repayment charge would be applicable. This will apply to many other people where at such a stressful time, the last thing they wish for is for another penalty to be applied in their lives. A simple concept which can have such alleviating consequences and has therefore to be commended.

 

If you have any questions regards the points raised  in this article please ring Freephone 0800 678 5159 or email me at [email protected] .

 

Now Aviva Accept Voluntary Repayments – Does this Change the Future of Equity Release?

By Mark Gregory on May 27th, 2014

Aviva equity release voluntary partial repaymentsAviva equity release plans have proved the most popular form of lifetime mortgage scheme over the past 15 years.

The reason for their popularity has been down to a combination of brand name, simplicity and the fact that Aviva have regularly provided the lowest equity release interest rates.

 

However, during that time there has been a cloud hanging over their lifestyle flexi mortgage range and that is the issue over the maximum early repayment charge & the lack of a partial repayment facility. It’s always been a case of all, or nothing with regards to paying off Aviva’s equity release schemes – now we have a choice.

 

Aviva – time for change

In the past few weeks Aviva have bravely taken steps to alleviate these issues with some bold amendments to their lifetime mortgage range. In fact the impact these changes could make, will dramatically alter the way equity release schemes will be used & managed in the future. Other equity release companies will undoubtedly take note of these new features & it can only signal the start of further innovation in lifetime mortgage industry.

 

Aviva have introduced three new approaches to equity release: –

  • new voluntary repayment features can be used to actually clear the equity release loan over a set number of years
  • Aviva apply a different approach to enhanced equity release rates by actually reducing the interest rate on offer (see later article)
  • An early repayment charge exemption can be applied on first death for any new joint equity release lifetime mortgage (see later article)

 

Why Aviva needed to up the ante

Monday 28th April heralded the start of swinging changes to the Aviva Lifestyle Mortgage range. All Aviva’s new equity release applications from this date forth would have the ability for partial repayments to be made back to Aviva.

 

However, from our company perspective during 2013, Equity Release Supermarket had seen its share of applications move significantly towards the Hodge Flexible Lifetime mortgage range. This has been due to Hodge Lifetime’s two pronged attack on becoming the most popular & flexible lifetime mortgage product. Their innovative move towards being able to repay upto 10% of the original capital borrowed & the ability to downsize after 5 years & repay the loan with NO penalty has captured a large market share.

 

Aviva has now responded to the popularity of the Hodge Flexible Lifetime Mortgage plan by matching the 10% repayment option & additionally providing more beneficial features!

A new dawn for the equity release market has started.

 

How does the Aviva Voluntary partial repayment option work in practice?

From inception of the new Aviva equity release plan there is the inherent ability to make repayments of an ad-hoc nature back to Aviva. Aviva do have a cap of 10% of the original capital borrowed that can be repaid in any one year. Additionally, the earliest date that the first repayment can be made is 12 months from the commencement date of the plan. So some forward planning needs to be made & this ideally would have been made with the involvement of your equity release adviser at recommendation stage.

 

Consideration needs to be borne in mind that interest will be added to the plan in the meantime for calculation purposes. For example, if a sum of £40,000 equity was initially released at an interest rate of 5.68%, the balance before any repayment could be made would be £42,272.

 

This is where the first decisions on how much to pay back need to be made, and there are three options available:-

  1. If only a fixed budget is available, then a contribution towards the interest accruing could be made. Should this be less than the annual amount of interest charged, then the balance will still increase, albeit at a lower rate than would otherwise have been should nothing have been repaid.
  2. Should a level future balance be the choice moving forward, the sum of £2,272 could be annually sent back to Aviva, thus reverting the balance back to its original starting point of £40,000. This process could theoretically continue infinitum until the plan ends, which would be upon death of the last borrower or them moving into long term care. The balance would always flicker between these two figures, dependent at what point the repayments of £2,272 were made.
  3. If total repayment of the £40,000 is required, then a repayment strategy could be put in situ which would see this whole amount repaid over a set number of years. Dependent upon how much is initially borrowed & assuming maximum repayments of 10%pa can be maintained for the duration, Equity Release Supermarket can calculate at what point the plan can be fully repaid with NO penalty!

 

As an example Equity Release Supermarket have calculated someone borrowing £40,000, on the popular Aviva interest rate of 5.68%pa, & repaying the maximum £4,000pa could repay their Aviva lifetime mortgage shortly after the end of the 16th year.

Could this be classed as the first capital & interest equity release mortgage?

 

Please contact us on 0800 678 5159 for your personalised Aviva repayment calculation or click this link.

 

How do I physically make voluntary repayments back to Aviva?

A reminder to make repayments will begin with the receipt of your first annual Aviva equity release mortgage statement. This will evidence the amount of interest that has been added to your plan. It is at that point that the first repayment can be made back to Aviva. The question is how much to pay & this will be down to an individual’s personal preferences.

 

Aviva have cleverly side stepped the issue of MMR (Mortgage Market Review) here. Whereas companies such as Stonehaven & more2life have had to adapt their interest only lifetime mortgage process to the new MMR regime, Aviva due to their ad-hoc approach to repayments have avoided the MMR obstacle. Regular payments cannot be set up to repay the Aviva equity release schemes. Although Aviva do permit upto 4 payments each year, subject to a minimum amount of £500, the repayment process has to still be managed through their head office.

 

This repayment process would initially involve a phone call to the Aviva offices advising them of the fact a repayment is due to be sent to them. In reply they will provide a verbal form of quote which acts as confirmation. This can be confirmed in writing to you & optionally your adviser aswell so they are aware of your intentions.

 

The next step would be to send the money which can be in the form of a cheque, credit or debit card or a bank transfer for which Aviva will provide their details & reference number to track. They will not accept payments without this process having been accomplished, or contact being made beforehand. In fact they could return the funds should this process was not followed.

 

Important repayment points to note

As previously stated, repayments can only commence after 12 months from inception of the loan. However, Aviva have imposed further 12 month conditions on when repayments can be made following certain events: –

 

  1. Following withdrawal of cash funds from the drawdown facility of the flexible lifetime mortgage
  2. Should any additional borrowing be taken in the future

 

In both situations, no repayments can therefore be made for 12 months following these two events also.

 

Additionally, the same applies in reverse;

Should a customer have made repayments and has an available cash reserve under their drawdown plan, they cannot gain access to the reserve or additional borrowing until 12 months following their last repayment has been made.

Aviva may consider requests for a further release of equity in exceptional circumstances outside of that rule.

 

These rules are effectively to prevent to the to-ing & fro-ing of cash funds within the plan which would undoubtedly have made the Aviva equity release plans unmanageable and unprofitable.

 

Functional planning ideas for managing voluntary repayments & retaining a cash reserve

Although it’s still early days in the life of the new flexible repayment options, some ideas on managing the Aviva voluntary repayments have already sprung to mind.

 

Unlike Hodge Lifetime, Aviva do not impose a £10,000 lower capital threshold by which no further repayments can be made without penalty. In fact Aviva will allow the continued repayment of interest & capital with NO minimum amount down to zero, or even almost zero.

 

This could be beneficial for those who want to see the equity release balance to be reduced to a minimum level (e.g. £100 or less), yet still maintain the option of keeping their drawdown lifetime mortgage cash facility for the future. Bear in mind the small outstanding balance will accrue interest (albeit minimal), yet for many the comfort of retaining a cash reserve may have massive benefits should cash be required still in the future.

 

Summary

Aviva have responded well to the changing needs of the baby boomer generation as equity release moves into the next stage of its development. Retiree’s financial needs are becoming more complex with almost 75% of pensioners owning their own property, even carrying debt into retirement & living much longer than previous.

 

Aviva’s latest changes will therefore appeal to both advisers and consumers alike who are looking for more flexible loan terms on the long road ahead.

 

To request an Aviva Flexible Lifetime mortgage quote with voluntary repayments please click here.

Click the following link for your FREE Aviva capital repayment calculation.

 

To discuss any of the points raised in this article please contact Mark on 0800 783 9652 or email [email protected]

 

Switch Equity Release from Papilio UK – Time is running out

By Mike Vicary on May 25th, 2014

Switch equity release from PapilioIn my last article on this subject in February 2013 I drew attention to the ease with which borrowers could escape the higher equity release  interest rates charged by Papilio UK, the successor to Northern Rock. I also reminded Papilio equity release borrowers that the option to take further loans from Papilio UK, an option Northern Rock originally considered, was no longer available.

 

Since my original Papilio article, Equity Release Supermarket have been inundated with enquiries leading to many satisfied clients switching to cheaper lifetime mortgages. And with many lifetime mortgage lenders currently offering free valuations and cashbacks, the costs of such transfers rarely exceed £1,500 – a sum that could soon be recovered through cheaper borrowing or funded by increasing the new mortgage.

 

Indeed, with fixed interest rates as low as 5.63% (5.83% representative APR) we have achieved savings for our clients of over 1.3% on their loans. With such low equity release interest rates, now is an excellent time to consider a remortgage from Papilio UK to a new provider.

 

Reasons to switch equity release plans

This could be for one of two reasons;

  1. To borrow additional funds & consolidate all old & new borrowings under one roof with a much lower interest rate.
  2. To simply swap equity release schemes on a like-for-like basis, but obtaining a much lower interest rate for the long term.

 

As an example in real terms, assuming that you remortgage a lifetime mortgage of £50,000 onto a fixed rate of 5.68% from a Papilio UK equity release mortgages rate of 6.99%, then after just 10 years the saving in interest charges would be in excess of £15,000. This would be not only beneficial for you if you require further borrow in the future, but also your beneficiaries who would now receive a larger inheritance.

 

Obviously, the larger the loan is, the greater the potential savings. This in turn would make large savings for your ultimate beneficiaries. Think of switching equity release schemes like any residential remortgage; you want to obtain the best rate for your outstanding debt, so as not to pay any more interest than necessary to the mortgage lender. The equity release switch principle works in exactly the same way.

 

New equity release schemes have greater benefits

In addition to the cheaper cost of borrowing, many lenders with whom you can swap equity release schemes to have now developed much more flexible lifetime mortgage plans.

 

For example, you could select a new lender with various penalty free options. The most recent innovations in the lifetime mortgage market are:

  1. Lifetime mortgage plans with Hodge Lifetime & Aviva where voluntary repayments of upto 10% per annum can be made each year. These ad-hoc repayments enable you to ‘control’ the future balance of the loan. This could be to maintain a level balance or even use it as a capital & interest mortgage by repaying the whole balance over a set number of years.
  2. Downsizing protection option from Hodge Lifetime which allows full repayment of the plan after 5 years by “trading down” your home. Therefore, if you move house & downsize you have the option to clear the whole mortgage debt & end up equity release ‘free’.
  3. Depending on the value of your property, you could remortgage to a new drawdown lifetime mortgage where a cash reserve facility could be established for ready access to further loans in case of future need ( a great way of protecting a surviving spouse on a reduced income)
  4. The option to protect a percentage of the eventual sale proceeds of your home with a guaranteed inheritance protection option for your children and beneficiaries.

 

So why consider switching from Papilio UK now?

The present economic conditions will not last for ever. Long term interest rates have started to creep up and the recent increase in property values in certain parts of the country might not be sustained. The Governor of the Bank of England warned over the weekend about the danger of the property “bubble” bursting, and this could remove from those with larger loans the opportunity to escape the higher interest rates charged by Papilio.

 

In our opinion, the time to act to escape Papilio UK equity release mortgages is NOW before interest rates increase and property values fall. And if you intend to take action then swapping equity release scheme from Papilio could be your recommended ‘escape route’

 

For further information, or to receive a FREE initial consultation, please contact me, Mike Vicary, on 07795 195302 or if you prefer email [email protected] where I would be more than happy to discuss your options.

 

The Papilio UK remortgage process

In the meantime it would be advisable to write to Papilio UK to obtain an up to date redemption statement to include all fees and the ongoing daily accrual of interest. Their address is:-

PO Box 1003, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP1 9UZ (Tel: 0844 8464716).

 

Armed with this information, I can then discuss with you your financial position and future plans and make a formal recommendation, if appropriate. You would receive clear details of the benefits to you of the Papilio UK remortgage and a full breakdown of costs.

 

Assuming you accept my recommendations, then we would complete the application paperwork at a mutually convenient home visit (preferably with family members present) or by post.

 

Following that Equity Release Supermarket would then oversee the valuation of your home by the new lender and we would instruct your solicitor on your behalf.

(We would strongly suggest appointing a specialist solicitor from our recommended panel to ensure that the transaction is completed as quickly and efficiently as possible.)

 

Our new business administration department would then manage your equity release application through to a successful completion by liaising with your new provider, solicitors & yourself. Once arranged, the Papilio UK equity release mortgage would have been repaid & the outstanding balance transferred to your new lifetime mortgage company & taking full advantage of the new lower rate &/or additional borrowing.

 

The time to take action is now.

 

Please do contact me for a free consultation on 07795 195302 or email [email protected]

Why London Housing Statistics show Equity Release on the Agenda

By Mark Gregory on May 20th, 2014

London Equity ReleaseAnytime housing values begin to increase, it is time to assess the home buying situation. Retirement has been a topic of some concern for those heading into their 60s. In fact, over 55s are starting to realise while they have worked hard, they may not have enough in their pension portfolio to live on. The reason is all down to living longer – longevity. The average life is no longer to 70, but closer to 90 for females. Even in London families are cash poor, but property rich. Take advantage of new housing statistics and use a UK equity release calculator to determine if there is an equity release solution for you. London equity release schemes are being called upon because of their ability to help those who need cash, but own large amounts of equity in their property.

 

Equity Release Defined

Equity releases most popular form is the lifetime mortgage. This mortgage comes in various guises and can either come with or without a method of monthly repayment until the property is sold, either because the homeowners move, pass away or end up in long term care. The mortgage can be taken out from the age of 55. These lifetime mortgages do collect interest based on a fixed APR that adds up each year until the mortgage is repaid.

 

The London Housing Market

London housing prices have increased by 17.7 per cent in the last year. New and pre-owned homes in London are continuing to increase rather quickly. While housing prices are increasing, mortgage interest rates have actually decreased in the last few years, however storm clouds are on the horizon with news that early 2015 could see an interest rate rise. The monthly cost even on equity release is lower than in previous years. Now with lifetime mortgages it is true you do not make a monthly repayment; however, it is important to use an equity release calculator to compare the cost of your lifetime product against a standard mortgage.

 

By comparing the two you can determine if the low monthly cost stacks up against the equity lifetime release. Standard mortgages in London offer a loan to value of 75 per cent, meaning the other 25 per cent has to be a down payment for the purchase of the property. Even the LTV has been increasing over the last few years and markedly in the last few months. What this means for lifetime equity release is a higher percentage of lump sum tax free cash available for homeowners.

 

The increase of housing prices means more value is in the home, thus more money can be released with any form of available equity release product. Even though there is a potential for more money to be available, it does not mean all homeowners will take the larger lump sum. It is just important to know it is available and there as a back-up should anything untoward happen.

 

Agenda – Lifetime Mortgage

Lifetime mortgages are defined and the London housing sector is ripe for the picking. You have an idea of the solution, but why might lifetime mortgages continue to rise in popularity even in the Big Smoke?

 

Younger generations tend to spend more during an average week than older generations, say those in their 80s. Many retirees are in their 60s, which means they are still spending money as if they were working.

 

If you add the expenditures that occur each week to the recession issues of the past couple of years, there is a detriment to retirement funds for most individuals, even those in London. Especially people living in London, considering the expense of daily living without being overly effusive with spending.

 

Housing costs to run a large home, food purchases, travel, and entertainment are all going to be more in the capital city. As retirement pensions and other retirement investments lost a great deal with stock market troubles, it has left many retirees without enough funds to sustain their retirement life.

 

More so has been the fundamental flaw in endowment mortgage schemes whereby large shortfall are being evidenced upon maturity of the endowment plan. This has left many London homeowners with shortfalls on the repayment of their interest only mortgage. Therefore, London equity release schemes have come to fruition with the likes Of Stonehaven, more2life & Hodge Lifetime whom can provide an escape route via remortgaging onto their London lifetime mortgage schemes.

 

It puts lifetime mortgages on the agenda because they are a way to gain cash for mortgage repayments, general living, extravagant holidays, and any other type of entertainment retirees might wish to enjoy. The cash poor situation suddenly becomes obsolete as the property rich gain a little of that hard earned money back to use as they grow older.

 

Inheritance Factors are Imperative

As you consider whether a lifetime mortgage is right for you, it is imperative to think about inheritance, especially with the associated property values in London borough’s. A large estate when provided to family all at once is subject to inheritance tax over & above the £325,000 allowance for each party. This tax can be so large that it wipes out the entire inheritance. It is the reason those with a huge estate set up trusts and other tax planning instruments which can alleviate some of the IHT burden.

 

A lifetime mortgage can work in one of two ways, both as detrimental to any inheritance you may want to leave behind, but can also be used as a successful vehicle for mitigating IHT issues. Even in London, equity release can threaten an inheritance depending on the type of loan. For instance, the roll-up lifetime mortgage has the interest compounding as long as the mortgage is outstanding. On the other hand it is an opportunity to disperse inheritance without fear of taxes. By using a UK equity release calculator, can help you calculate the percentage of loan to leave as an inheritance.

 

Before entering into any equity release contract, you must seek independent equity release advice from a reputable company. For a full list of equity release brokers visit the Equity Release Council website, where using a postcode search can identify a London equity release brokerage near to you.

How to Get the Best Aviva Equity Release Deal

By Mark Gregory on March 24th, 2014

Best Aviva equity release interest ratesWhile 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.

Practical Applications of the Pure Retirement Drawdown Plan

By Mark Gregory on March 22nd, 2014

Pure Retirement Drawdown PlanPure 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: –

 

  1. FREE valuation
  2. NO application fee
  3. Contribution of £600 towards legal costs
  4. 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: –

 

CASE STUDY

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

Valuation

Application

Legals

Advice

Legal Contribution

Advice Contribution

Net Costs

       Just         Retirement

FREE

£600

£600

£895

£0

£0

£2095

Pure Retirement

FREE

£0

£600

£895

£600

£500

£395

 

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: –

 

  1. Where they have an existing equity release plan & need further funds.
  2. 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.

 

Summary

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].

 

 

Further Information

 Request Pure Drawdown Quote | Pure Product Specs | How Much Can I Borrow? | Contact Us

How Equity Release Schemes Can Help Generate Extra Income in Retirement

By Mark Rumney on March 10th, 2014

How equity release can provide extra income in retirementThroughout 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]

 

Can I Move Home with Equity Release?

By Mark Gregory on February 26th, 2014

Moving Home With Equity ReleaseOne 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:

  1. Can I move home if I have already taken out an equity release plan?
  2. Can I use equity release to purchase a new property
  3. How much can I raise on a new home using maximum equity release schemes?
  4. Can I transfer my existing equity release scheme to a new home?
  5. Can I still take out equity release if I downsize?
  6. 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: –

  1. 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
  2. The 2nd situation analyses the advice & legal process required when purchasing or moving home, utilising an existing equity release plan.
  3. 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.

 

Case Study:

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.

 

Summary

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 Mark on 07966 889597 or e-mail [email protected]

 

 
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