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Archive for December, 2014

Equity Release Supermarket Set To Launch New Partnerships Venture

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Gary Webster - Head Of PartnershipsEquity Release Supermarket is delighted to announce the appointment of Gary Webster as the new Head of Business Partner Channels.

 

Mark Gregory Director at Equity Release Supermarket commented: “Gary’s wealth of industry experience and approach to developing new business channels fits perfectly with the continued growth plans for not only our business, but the equity release market. More detail of our plans will be revealed in the new year”

 

Gary Webster added: “I was hugely impressed with the fresh and straightforward attitude to doing business here and really look forward to bringing this approach to partners and their clients to get the best outcomes for all”

 

Gary’s role will involve developing new equity release referral & introducer partnerships for Equity Release Supermarket, an area that will consolidate the business further moving into 2015.

 

Using Gary’s previous experience in this role, Gary feels he can help build on the success Equity Release Supermarket has already developed with its strong brand & online presence, an area the two can work side by side.

 

More news will follow in early 2015 including the launch of a new Equity Release Partners website whose functionality will lead the way in this growing B2B market.

 

If you have any queries in the meantime, please contact Gary on 07908 521038 or email gary@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

How Equity Release and Power of Attorney Can Work In Tandem

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Equity Release Using an Enduring Power of AttorneyHere at Equity Release Supermarket we occasional experience children and attorney’s contacting us asking whether they can take out equity release on behalf of someone they hold an Enduring or Lasting Power of Attorney over? The answer is yes.

 

However, there are systems in place from equity release companies to protect the homeowner and ensure that any release of equity is being utilised for the correct reasons and correct legally. Looking after someone else’s affairs financially is a big responsibility, not only in looking after the homeowner, but also the responsibility to their beneficiaries.

 

Being an independent equity release adviser with Equity Release Supermarket, I recently dealt with an Enduring Power of Attorney case which was being utilised to meet ongoing long term care costs that were being provided to enable the homeowner to remain in her home. The following case study illustrates the steps involved in helping the attorney take equity release on behalf of someone they were looking after, due to the onset of Alzheimer’s and the inability for the homeowner to contract themselves.

 

 

Equity Release & Power of Attorney Case Study

Initially, I had a call from a solicitor who held an Enduring Power of Attorney over a frail lady in her late 80’s. The lady had nominated the solicitor to be Power of Attorney over 15 years ago as the only family she had was a son living abroad. The solicitor contacted me as the lady had now developed Alzheimer’s and needed 24 hours a day care and was concerned that the lady was about to lose her home and be forced into a care home.

 

The homeowner was unable to live on her own and the cost of paying for full time carers to stay in the property was costing over £2,500 per month. Due to the ongoing nature of these costs and the fact her income was insufficient to cover much of these expenses, her savings were rapidly reducing and apart from the bungalow, she had no other assets. The attorney, who was also the solicitor had looked into all other options including help from the state, alas none were available.

 

Additionally, moving home was not a viable option due to the lady’s poor health and she did not want the upset of leaving her bungalow of 20 years and she still had something recognisable to her which was her Labrador. Therefore, with only £15,000 left in savings, time was running out to find a solution as to how to finance the remainder of her years.

 

The Equity Release Advice Process

I basically dealt with the solicitor as if they were my client taking out the equity release scheme. After taking suitable identification for both the homeowner & the attorney I was able to gather the background to the older lady’s finances. This gave me an insight as to how much was required monthly in order to meet the ongoing long term care costs. My job then was find a suitable equity release scheme that would fulfil the needs of maintaining the payments for the long term care for the first 12 months and then beyond.

 

 

After conducting my initial equity release research I advised that a guaranteed lifetime mortgage drawdown schLiverpool Victoria Equity Releaseeme was the best option. One particular lifetime mortgage meeting these requirements was from Liverpool Victoria. LV= offer an equity release scheme with a guaranteed drawdown facility, so no matter what happens in the next 15 years money can still be taken from the creation of a cash reserve facility, to guarantee money for future care costs would be available.

 

 

This is the advantage of taking completely independent equity release advice as we can research the whole of the marketplace to find the correct scheme to fit with clients individual circumstances. The LV= Flexible Lifetime Mortgage scheme ticked all the right boxes to meet the Attorney’s requirements as a concern of hers was that money would be need to be guaranteed in the future to guarantee the future of her care.

 

The next step to save time & possible heartbreak later was to check the legal paperwork of the Enduring Power of Attorney was suitable from the lenders perspective. Therefore, I sent a copy of the Enduring Power of Attorney document to LV= legal department who checked over & made sure it was registered with the Court of Protection. It was & met their requirements which enabled me to pass on the good news to the solicitor which gave the green light to continue the process to application.

 

Not only were LV= happy that the Power of Attorney was registered with the court of protection, but also that there was no conflict of interest between the attorney and the homeowner with the Alzheimer’s. The only other concern for LV= was that there was full time carers living in the property, but who rotated their shifts on a weekly basis. The carers were employed by an agency and after seeing a copy of the agency employment agreement, LV= were happy to proceed as long as the agency would sign a letter to state that upon the death of the homeowner they would cease to remain in the property. This they had no issue agreeing to.

 

Why Should Equity Release Clients Take out a Power of Attorney?

I always recommend Lasting Power of Attorney to my clients (changed from Enduring Power of Attorney in 2007) as you can nominate someone you trust; family member, friend or solicitor to make decisions on your behalf if needed in the future. However, most people think they will never need it and do not want to think about it is reassuring to know as in the above case that your best interests are being looked after by someone that you trust.

 

There are two elements to this in England and Wales – the Property and Financial Affairs & the Health and Welfare. This enables attorneys to provide cover for permanent or temporary control of finances and also medical treatment consent. The attorney also has the power to make the decision as to whether the homeowner should be taken into care, or stay in own home & be looked after there.

 

It is not compulsory with equity release, but is recommended that a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is taken out, so if you get to a stage either through Alzheimer’s or any other reason if you cannot make financial or medical decisions then someone you trust can be nominated on your behalf to make decisions for you. LPA’s can even be used on a temporary basis where then can be utilised if a situation arises and you are unable to sign documents due to a temporary event such as illness, holiday or even broken wrist!

 

Summary

In the above equity release case the advantage of having Power of Attorney in place ultimately enabled the lady to stay in her own home in the first instance and with a guaranteed lifetime mortgage drawdown scheme from LV= it enabled her to stay in her own home for the foreseeable future. This would be via an initial lump sum covering the first 12 months costs, with the option if still required a cash drawdown facility, sufficient to cover a further two years costs, subject to any changes.

 

My name is Glen Pike & I am a specialist in equity release case studies such as this involving Power of Attorneys.

 

If you have a similar decision to make on behalf of a parent, or someone close to you and would like a free initial equity release consultation, please contact me on 07510 835613 or email glen@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

Steps to Finding the Best Equity Release Scheme

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

Best equity release schemeEach year the equity release industry celebrates its achievements at the Merchants Taylors Hall with its version of the Equity Release Awards 2014. This year in particular, equity release schemes have been taken out in record amounts & have led to unprecedented growth. This has been for a number of reasons, but primarily the innovation of new equity release plans from the likes of Aviva, Hodge Lifetime & lately Stonehaven.

 

However, it is the Aviva Flexible Lifetime Mortgage Plan that here at Equity Release Supermarket has seen the greatest impact & has helped many of our clients achieve their retirement goals. It was therefore no surprise that Aviva won the category of Best Lifetime Mortgage provider in 2014. This followed a series of enhancements to their lifetime mortgage plans this year, coupled with the lowest equity release interest rates, currently starting as low as 5.63% (5.83% representative APR).

 

These successful changes include:

  • Allowing clients to voluntarily repay up to 10% of the original capital borrowed each year, in up to 4 installments with a minimum of £500 a time.
  • On joint life equity release cases they now allow the surviving partner to sell their home and repay the scheme without penalty as long as it’s within 3 years of the first person dying or entering long term care.

 

Thanks to these extra features, Aviva has increased their market share even further but despite winning their equity release award it would be wrong to view their product as the best on the market for everyone. In order to find the best equity release scheme for you it’s important to get independent, whole of market advice from a company like Equity Release Supermarket.

 

Equity Release Supermarket’s philosophy is to spend valuable time to find out exactly what you’re goals are so that we can recommend the most appropriate scheme based specifically on these requirements. So, once we’ve gathered sufficient information based on your current situation, identified no alternative solutions exist, it is only then that we would enter the realms of recommending equity release schemes.

 

But how do we work out which equity release scheme is the ‘best’ plan for my clients? We consider a range of factors, such as:

  • Equity release interest rates
  • Maximum equity release calculation including maximum cash reserve facility
  • Early repayment charges
  • Set up costs
  • Flexible repayment options
  • Health and lifestyle factors for enhanced lifetime mortgage plans
  • Future retirement plans
  • Inheritance plans – attitude to risk

 

Seven Factors to Help Find the Best Equity Release Plan

Equity release schemes are constantly innovating and keeping up with their progress can be a minefield for those looking for the best equity release plan today. To help provide guidance on understanding the various aspects of equity release plans that can influence this decision, I have provided seven features and areas of research that Equity Release Supermarket advisers would analyze and discuss with you.

 

  1. Best Interest rates:

There are some excellent online comparison websites such as www.EquityReleaseSupermarket.co.uk where you can compare the best equity release deals in the market at any given time. The equity release comparison sites will currently highlight Aviva as offering some of the lowest interest rates for both drawdown lifetime mortgages and their lump sum counterparts.

However, simply offering the lowest lifetime mortgage interest rate may not make their scheme the ‘best’. Aviva do charge a higher interest rate to access the funds in any cash reserve facility than the initial rate and they cap the reserve amount if you initially release less than 50% of the overall loan amount. This may not therefore be suitable if you are looking to have a maximum cash reserve facility for your future retirement needs.

 

Therefore, it is down to your equity release adviser to assess & understand what your priorities are in leading to their recommendation of the best equity release scheme for you.

 

For instance, if you need to take the maximum equity release loan from your property, interest rates tend to be higher than the drawdown lifetime mortgage schemes. Hence, the ‘best’ scheme could depend on any of the other factors names above. The possible reason for the higher interest rate for the maximum equity releases could be the potential of invoking the no negative equity guarantee is likely to be greater the higher the release borrowed. This cost being passed on by way of the higher interest rate to compensate.

 

Currently, at the time of writing, the lowest lifetime mortgage interest rate is 4.75% (5.10% representative APR) which is the Hodge Retirement Mortgage. If you want to make monthly payments of interest to maintain a level balance, this scheme is excellent but it wouldn’t be the ‘best’ scheme if you don’t want to make any interest payments. As you can see, the lowest equity release interest rate alone does not determine it being the best scheme.

 

  1. Maximum Equity Release Plans

Equity Release Supermarket would always recommend that you only release the capital that you need, rather than releasing the maximum loan. This one area alone, in assessing the best equity release scheme, can have the greatest influence on the final inheritance for your children or beneficiaries. In fact, this aspect we find is where clients need to be guided carefully by their adviser, as many do not understand the consequences of taking too much equity from their home.

 

In fact, drawdown lifetime mortgage plans are now the most common form of equity release taken in 2014 & will surely be for equity release 2015 aswell. By taking the home equity plan funds in small staggered amounts, rather than all upfront makes practical sense for your own future balance & the inheritance for your beneficiaries. These drawdowns can be taken in little amounts as an initial £10,000, and then followed by smaller £1,000 tranches from the likes of Hodge Lifetime. This can be utilised to suit any future spending plans as & when they arise.

 

During my 15 years of advising clients on equity release, one of the most common queries I receive is ‘Can I access further funds?’

Let’s look at an example:

 

Margaret and Graham are both 70 and live in a bungalow worth £300,000. They want to be able to take regular holidays and buy a new car. In the future they’d like to gradually improve their property and supplement their income. My advice was to take an initial loan of £25,000 and set up a reserve facility. In order to work out the ‘best’ scheme for them we discussed whether the interest rate or the size of the reserve was more important to them. They opted for a larger amount of money on reserve. Therefore, after the initial loan – Pure Retirement offered a cash reserve of £83,000, while the Aviva Flexi Plan with a lower interest rate only offered a reserve of £48,000.The clients therefore opted for the Pure Retirement Drawdown Plan based on the future reserve facility.

 

Another important factor to a recent client was that she wanted the certainty that the funds available on reserve were guaranteed to be in place. Many lenders do not ‘guarantee’ the future of their drawdown facilities in case of change of circumstances, economic reasons or they just decide not to lend again in the future.

 

My client was concerned in case the lender withdrew her cash reserve funds in the future. In her circumstances LV= proved to be the best equity release scheme for her as they’re the only company to offer a guaranteed drawdown reserve, which is guaranteed to be in place for a minimum of 15 years.

 

  1. Best Early Repayment Charges (ERC’s)

Equity release schemes are designed as a lifetime commitment and are not aimed for short term borrowings or people who wish to repay the balance before the plan ends; on death or the last person moving into long term care. That said, there are a growing number of people who would possibly repay their equity release scheme early; due to change in circumstances, future health reasons or maybe family reasons. Therefore the ‘best’ scheme would be one that offered flexibility on early repayment charges over a limited number of years, either none at all or the lowest fixed rate possible if acceptable to the client.

 

An equity release company plan that has considered the topic of early repayment charges has been Hodge Lifetime. Two of their lifetime mortgage plans have been carefully thought out on this particular subject. The Hodge Lifetime Mortgage Plan allows homeowners the ability to downsize after 5 years of taking their plan & repay their lifetime mortgage with NO penalties. In fact even leading upto this 5 year period, should one downsize the penalty reduces by 1% each year; from 5% down to 0% over this duration.

 

The second Hodge product that assists with early repayment charges is the Hodge Retirement Mortgage. This product is an interest only lifetime mortgage and has a fixed interest rate for a period of 5 years. The Hodge Retirement Mortgage therefore mirrors this time by aligning the early repayment charges (ERC’s) to match the same term. Subsequently, the early repayment charges are just 5% for the first 5 years of the retirement mortgage term.

 

Most equity release lenders use government gilts as a measure in working out any potential ERC’s. This means that the early repayment penalty is variable and could be as high as 25% of the initial loan amount. For the standard lifetime mortgage plans, LV= are currently the only company who offer a fixed early repayment charge, which is 5% for the first 5 years and 3% from years 6 to 10. After the 10th year you can repay the scheme without penalty, so this may prove to be the ‘best’ scheme for some clients knowing what their future holds, or the Hodge Lifetime schemes should they have plans for moving house after 5 years.

 

  1. Equity Release Set Up Costs:

Typically the lowest set up costs doesn’t necessarily mean the ‘best’ plan, although keeping a check & comparing equity release set up costs is important for a number of reasons, particularly to save money! Why pay more to a broker for their advice fee when another company can advise on exactly the same plan, but for a lower cost.

 

Equity releases set up costs are made up of a series of fees levied by different parties to the equity release process. These consist of the valuation fee, lenders application fee, solicitors’ fees & your adviser’s advice fee.

 

Valuation fees vary between lenders, however through certain specialist brokers such as here at Equity Release Supermarket there are now many lenders that will offer ‘free’ valuations by process you application through us.

 

Lender application fees can also vary, with some either being added or deducted from the release. Remember if the application fee is added this will cost more over the long run if the interest is to compound with no repayments made. The Hodge Retirement Mortgage application fee is the highest at £995, but they do offer the lowest interest rate. Pure Retirement offer a cash-back on some of their plans which can cover all of the set up costs, but their interest rate isn’t the lowest. Just Retirement offer one of the lowest admin fees at £500, but not necessarily the lowest interest rate either. As you can see this is an area where careful advice is needed to find the best equity release plan.

 

  1. Interest & Capital Repayment Options

The major change to equity release schemes in the past few years has been the ability to pay either monthly interest or voluntary interest payments in order to cover some or all of the accruing interest. Again, the lowest interest rate might not equal the best plan.

 

We have already identified that the Hodge Retirement Mortgage offers the lowest rate, but you need to maintain a fixed monthly payment throughout its whole term. However, companies such as Stonehaven & More2life will offer an interest only lifetime mortgage too. However, rather than the concern of possible repossession should payments not be maintained, both Stonehaven & More2life will allow the switch from monthly payments to roll-up (ceasing payments), thus removing the concern of repossession.

 

Schemes which offer voluntary repayments, such as the Aviva Flexi, Hodge Lifetime and with effect from 1st December Stonehaven Interest Select range all allow upto 10% capital repayments. They all charge a higher interest rate, but they do include greater flexibility with regards to permitting these 10% voluntary payments.

 

The Hodge Flexible Lifetime Mortgage Plan & Aviva offer these schemes, and have now been joined by Stonehaven. Having a flexible approach has proved a popular way forward for many that wish to retain control over their future balance. These voluntary repayment lifetime mortgages can be planned so that either just the interest is repaid, thus keeping the balance level, or repaying the full 10% and actual seeing the mortgage balance reducing & even repaid over a period of 16-17 years!

 

  1. Health & Lifestyle Factors

Your health & lifestyle won’t affect your eligibility for equity release but can actually improve the amount you receive, or the interest rate you obtain! There are currently four equity release companies that offer enhancements to their schemes.

 

More2life & Partnership Assurance specialise in enhanced lifetime mortgages, however they may not be the ‘best’ plans as the interest rates are often higher. However, this for some retirees interest rates may not be priority, but the maximum equity release lump sum is. Aviva also offer enhanced lifetime mortgages and can either offer a higher maximum release on its Lump Sum Max plan or alternatively reduce their interest rate, if the maximum is not required & taken on their drawdown flexi plan. Depending on your health criteria, some lending may not accept certain ailments. However, certain enhanced lifetime mortgage companies such as Just Retirement, will go deeper into their health & lifestyle questionnaire & consider illnesses the others won’t accept.

 

  1. Inheritance guarantees

It’s sometimes important that my clients can leave a set inheritance for their families and some lifetime mortgage providers, such as More2Life, Aviva & New Life offers such guaranteed inheritance features. The inclusion of these guarantees can impact the interest rate and the amount of capital available, so careful consideration is needed to work out the ‘best’ scheme.

 

On forgotten equity release scheme that is over looked by many advisers are home reversion plans. Companies such as Bridgewater, New Life & Crown still offer this older form of equity release. Its popularity has waned considerably over the years, however the major benefit of home reversion plans is their ability to guarantee an inheritance at the end of the day. This works by selling a percentage of the property to the reversion company in exchange for a cash lump sum. The proportion of the property not sold is guaranteed to be passed on to the heirs once the house is eventually sold.

 

Summary

Overall, equity release advice is a specialist area of retirement planning. As we’ve seen there isn’t one scheme which is the ‘best’ on the market or fits all. There are far too many features & personal issues to consider that could have relevance to your recommended equity release plan. Thankfully, there are plenty of different options from many different providers. By receiving quality, bespoke advice from Equity Release Supermarket we can work out the ‘best equity release scheme‘ for you, without any obligation.

 

If you are looking to source the best equity release scheme for your particular circumstances & in need of specialist advice then please contact me – Mark Rumney on 07957 974826 or email – markrumney@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

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