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Archive for August, 2012

Is It Possible To Remortgage My Current Equity Release Scheme?

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Throughout the history of equity release schemes, now is as good a time as any to consider remortgaging your existing equity release plan. So whether you are looking to borrow additional money or looking for a lower interest rate, a review of your current equity release scheme could make sound financial sense.

 

With the equity release market constantly evolving and interest rates having fallen significantly over the past year or so, now is the right time to analyse whether you could get a better deal than your current equity release scheme. 2012 has brought about new plans and innovations in the lifetime mortgage market, so whether you are looking to borrow additional money or looking for a lower interest rate a review is always essential.

 

As a consumer, it is always good to keep exploring the market for better options. For those who already have an equity release plan, one of the most common concerns is whether they can easily switch from one scheme to another. Consider equity release schemes like a conventional residential mortgage; they are basically the same apart from the fact that with an equity release scheme there are no monthly payments.

 

Why consider an equity release remortgage?

The main reason for considering switching equity release plans today would be due to the fall in lifetime mortgage interest rates. Interest rates on borrowing are much lower today than a many years ago and with rates now as low as 5.57% on the Aviva flexible lifetime mortgage plan, considerable compound interest could be saved over the long term. Combine this lowest ever interest rate with the current crop of deals available such as Aviva’s £1,000 cashback and free valuation, makes an equity release remortgage to Aviva an great inheritance saving action plan.

 

Which are the best schemes to switch to?

Another important change in the market is that many new types of equity release mortgage have become available today. For instance, lenders may now have much more flexible terms on the loan than previously. Over 5 years ago there was no such term as a ‘drawdown lifetime mortgage’.

Now we have the likes of Just Retirement, Aviva, LV= and an even enhanced drawdown equity release plans (where poor health exists) from companies such as more2life. We now also have a repayment facility included in a new plan from Hodge Lifetime. Hodge allow 10% overpayments each year with NO early repayment charges and even no penalty on downsizing after 5 years of the start of the plan.

Not only do we have roll-up schemes, but increasingly popular are becoming the interest only lifetime mortgage schemes from the likes of Stonehaven. Whereas in the past the interest could only roll-up, nowadays with Stonehaven equity release you can actual repay the interest in order to maintain a level balance on your mortgage. This is a great idea for those who wish to take some equity out of their property, but ensure that a guaranteed amount will only be payable to the lender at the end of the day.

 

Therefore, a regular review of any equity release scheme is recommended as your circumstances may have changed, or your future plans may be different from those years ago when the original plan was taken out. Considering all this, it is likely that if you’ve had an equity release mortgage for some time now, you should be able to find a better and more suitable loan in today’s’ marketplace.

 

Are there any pitfalls?

Switching to an alternate scheme is not just a matter of searching the internet for equity release comparison sites and immediately applying for a new equity release loan. Several factors need to be considered carefully in order to work out whether a new loan is viable. Even though the terms of lending may look rather attractive on paper, these need to be considered in the light of your existing loan, particularly whether any early repayment penalties may exist.

 

Early repayment charges are penalties charged by lenders which are meant to protect the lender from any losses made due to an early repayment of the loan. This penalty could be a lump sum, or a percentage of the total amount borrowed. They could be as high as 25% of the principal amount or 5% of the amount borrowed. In order to make a considered and correct decision about switching, it is important to get more information on equity release remortgages.

 

How do I go about remortgaging?

The most appropriate person to seek advice from is a local independent equity release adviser. Your advisor can give you impartial and expert advice on which equity release plans may now work best for you. Your adviser can calculate exactly when you could start to make savings by switching to a new equity release plan. This would be assessed by considering all the costs involved in setting up a new loan, as well as taking into account any penalties.

On your behalf and with your written authority, your adviser will request an equity release redemption statement from your existing provider. This will establish exactly how much is outstanding, the interest rate being charged & any early repayment charges that may apply. Armed with this information, a full analysis can then take place to ascertain whether it is sensible & cost effective to switch plans.

 

So if you’re looking to borrow more from your existing plan, or wanting to reduce the future compounding effect of the rolled-up interest, always get specialist advice.

 

The quality of equity release advice can make significantly difference to the inheritance you leave behind. Contact the equity release remortgage experts at Equity Release Supermarket to take away any worry and ensuring you make the right decision for yourself and your beneficiaries.

 

Call freephone 0800 678 5159 and request a FREE equity release remortgage analysis today. Alternatively, complete our contact form with details of your current plan and one of our advisers will contact you to discuss further.

 

What are the Best Early Repayment Charges on Equity Release Schemes?

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

If you are considering taking equity release and early repayment maybe on the horizon, then selecting the right equity release plan is essential to avoid potentially high penalties. Here we illustrate the pitfalls of early repayment of an equity release scheme and what to look out for, if one day you are considering paying off your plan early.

 

Equity release schemes are in simple terms a mortgage that runs for your lifetime & commonly has NO monthly repayments. The principle reason for the growing popularity behind equity release schemes is that they enable you to free up the equity tied up within the bricks and mortar of your home.

 

With hindsight, once we all reach retirement age we should all have sufficient income & capital in the bank to meet our retirement objectives. However, such forward planning doesn’t always materialise for one reason or another; ill-health, redundancy or poor investment return can always interrupt anyone’s best laid plans. So what contingency plans can one put in place, or how can one minimise the risk of achieving retirement age without the funds to enjoy the longest holiday of your life?

 

Equity release schemes

We have witnessed the virtues of equity release mortgages & how they have come to the rescue of many retirees over the past 15 years. However, what can be a life saver initially can become a financial liability in the future unless professional equity release advice is provided by a qualified & experienced lifetime mortgage adviser.

 

One of the fundamental advances in the emerging equity release market is the protection this industry is now affording to its customers. With FSA (Financial Services Authority) regulation, trade bodies such as the newly formed Equity Release Council (formerly SHIP) & in-built protection features such as the no-negative equity guarantee, equity release clients have never been more re-assured of the improvements in these lifetime mortgages for the over 55’s.

 

What are the potential pitfalls of equity release schemes?

One area that hasn’t seen much improvement in the equity release marketplace would be the impact of early repayment charges (ERC’s). As equity release providers are lending over a potentially long duration; in some cases in excess of 40 years, they need to set their long term borrowing plans accordingly. Equity release on the face of it may seem very profitable to lenders, however for a large initial outlay it can be many years before they receive their capital & interest in return. To ensure that their profitability & future of the plans remains they must make contingencies in case of early surrender.

 

Hence, like any mortgage the lender, equity release providers need to include a penalty on early repayment of an equity release plan. To many this would not be seen as an issue as we may have all experienced some form of ERC with our mortgage companies in the past. The difference between residential penalties & equity release penalties are the basis of, the size, & duration that the penalties can be levied over.

 

What kinds of penalties are charged?

Whereas all residential mortgages charge some form of fixed penalty over a fixed number of years, equity release schemes in general are nothing like. The majority of lenders have now reverted to the old Norwich Union formula of using government gilts as the basis for their early repayment charge. Companies that have now followed suit are Just Retirement, more2life, Partnership, Stonehaven and more recently New Life Mortgages switched from a fixed rate basis onto gilts also.

However, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule who come from the likes of: –

 

  • LV= (Liverpool Victoria) – who still use a fixed penalty of 5% of the capital borrowed in the first 5 years to 3% in the next 5 years, then nothing thereafter.
  • Hodge Lifetimewho use a combination of a fixed rate penalty over 5 years and swap rates which relate to the long term effect of interest rates. However, they do have the advantage that if you move after 5 years, then no ERC’s will apply. Additionally, they permit 10% overpayments each year without penalty.

 

Is it all gloom and doom?

The answers to this could be both yes and no; depending if you have an existing equity release plan or not.

For equity release customers who took out a gilt related plan in the past it could be bad news. However, remember this is only bad news if you intend to repay early! If you have no intentions of early repayment, then no ERC’s would be applicable. All equity release schemes will NOT apply any penalty on repayment of the equity release due to death or long term care. Additionally, with the Equity Release Council (SHIP) rules in place if you are moving or downsizing you can take your existing scheme with you with no penalty. Equity release schemes have clearly made it known they are a lifetime mortgage. Therefore, the plans are not designed to provide short term borrowings.

 

You could however hedge your bets on occasions, but as the phase goes…let the buyer beware. For instance, with gilts rates currently at such low levels, unprecedented in the years that equity release has been around, could now be a good time to consider a gilt related equity release plan over the medium term?

The reason for taking out such a plan now would be the fact that these gilt related ERC equity release providers will not levy an ERC should the gilt rate have risen since the mortgage was taken out. In fact companies such as Aviva won’t charge an ERC if the gilt rate remains the same or even falls by a margin of 0.12%.

It is a gamble, as there is still much uncertainty in the economy, but the markets would expect that gilts are sure to go back up in the future when interest rates maybe rise. When though is the golden question.

 

So, gauging which equity release scheme is the best doesn’t all boil down to interest rates. A combination of assessing your future plans and how much, and when you actually require these funds can be just as important.

 

Afterall, what is the point of taking out an equity release plan with Aviva an interest rate of 5.66%, when upon early repayment you could be charged an enormous penalty of upto 25% of the amount you originally borrowed! It may be better to pay a slightly higher rate, with the knowledge that you either have no penalty or at least a known penalty from the outset.

 

Having an experienced equity release adviser is paramount in helping to decide which is the best equity release scheme, for your particular circumstances. By not only looking at your current situation, but also your future plans; your requirements now and also in the future will help your adviser assist in making the right equity release decision for you.

 

Equity Release Supermarket provide independent equity release advice from the whole of the market. Having the experience of actually working with the likes of Aviva, Prudential, NatWest and Norwich Union, gives our advisers the advantage of knowing the ins and outs of lenders early repayment charges and being able to give quality advice.

 

If you have any questions about equity release early repayment charges then please call one of our specialists on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk.

 

 
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