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How Low Can Equity Release Interest Rates Go?

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Aviva's lowest ever equity release interest rateHaving been advising on Equity Release since the halcyon days of Norwich Union, I have seen a continual, albeit gradual decrease in the level of equity release interest rates. The latest news has it that Aviva will be aggressively reducing their interest rates today –  Monday 26th January 2015 to an unprecedented lowest rate ever, starting from just 5.13%!

 

So what are the factors behind this interest rate drop, given the rest of the equity release companies trail so far behind Aviva in competitiveness?

 

History of Equity Release Interest Rates

Equity release interest rates historically don’t tend to move that regularly, or by very much. It tends to be market forces that dictate how competitively they wish to be & where they wish to be positioned in the market. Going back the early days of equity release schemes, particularly plans from Northern Rock (now Papilio) and Norwich Union (now Aviva), their early interest rates were in excess of 8%. However, comparatively mainstream mortgage rates were also higher at that time and therefore equity release plans were not considered as expensive as they look today.

 

Time to Consider Interest Rate Diversification?

However, the difference between mainstream mortgage rates and equity release interest rates is the fact that equity release schemes historically have a fixed interest rate for life. Residential mortgages don’t & therefore can be re-appraised frequently which enables the best interest rate to be achieved each time.

 

Perhaps it’s time that equity release providers took time to consider this fixed lifetime interest rate offering? Afterall, the reason that traditional equity release schemes have a fixed rate is to act as a safety net due to the compounding effect of interest as no payments are normally necessary, or permitted. This also aides the protection of their insurance policy, which is the ‘no negative equity guarantee’.

 

How Can Equity Release Lenders Reduce Interest Rates Further?

New Voluntary Repayment Plans from the likes of Aviva, Stonehaven & Hodge Lifetime accept repayments of upto 10%pa with NO penalty and therefore if managed correctly cancel out the potential compounding effect of interest. Therefore, would it not make sense for these lifetime mortgage lenders to offer a reviewable interest rate every so many years? A reviewable interest rate could have a bearing on the nature of early repayment charges where so many equity release companies use the unpredictable nature of government gilts as their barometer. Retirees are looking for greater flexibility these days and a change in structure could certainly assist.

 

Catering to the New Silver Surfer Generation

More retirees are becoming financially savvy, particularly those arriving at retirement still owning interest only mortgages. This crop of mortgagors have experienced the variances in interest rates & the different types of rates available during their mortgage years. For instance, is it not time for a standard variable equity release interest rate, or a tracker equity release interest rate? Why not, if the interest or upto 10% of the original capital is to be repaid each year, then why is it necessary to have a lifetime fixed interest rate?

 

If the equity release market is set to expand it needs further innovation & development of its equity release schemes. Therefore, should the forecast for future interest rates be historically low, then it would make sense to consider the options of tracker, discounted or variable interest rates. Perhaps the future of the no negative equity guarantee can be questionable given this has an effect of increasing the interest rate by upto 0.5%?

Why not have the option of choosing whether to include the no negative equity guarantee, or not. With that would come the choice of two representative interest rates; one including the guarantee & a lower interest rate without it. These options could all help to reduce the future interest rates of equity release plans & help the market move forward & expand.

 

A strong case in question for the optional inclusion of the no negative equity guarantee would be where retirees are committed to making repayments & managing the future balance of their lifetime mortgage scheme. Clearly advice of the consequences of not including this guarantee should always be provided, but we shouldn’t be treating the majority of equity release consumers with kid gloves. Equity releasers can themselves make informed decisions based on the facts & advice provided. As long as the adviser is giving quality impartial equity release advice then why can’t the industry open up & start becoming more diverse in its thought process & product innovation!

 

New Aviva Flexible Lifetime Mortgage Interest Rate

As stated earlier Aviva are to significantly reduce their minimum interest rate on their Flexible Lifetime Mortgage Plan. Equity Release Supermarket is able to obtain a lower interest rate than mainstream equity release advisers. This is set to continue from 26th January 2015 with the reduction in the minimum interest rate as calculated by the Aviva flex tool calculation. The lowest equity release interest rate with Aviva is determined by personal criteria, such as age, property value & also health.

 

Consider the following equity release scenario: –

Mr & Mrs Chambers are aged 67 & 64 respectively & own a property valued at £250,000 which is unencumbered. Unfortunately, Mrs Chambers had cancer last year and they now realised how important it is for them to enjoy their retirement. They wish to go on a cruise, carry out home improvements and release approximately £30,000 with access to a future cash reserve facility.

 

After conducting research with Equity Release Supermarket they were recommended the Aviva Flexi Plan with an interest rate of just 5.13%pa (5.33% representative APR). This recommendation was borrowing £30,000 & having a further cash reserve facility of £33,000 for possible future use.

 

Aviva’s Lowest Ever Equity Release Interest Rate To-Date

This 5.13% enhanced lifetime mortgage rate is the lowest ever equity release interest rate that any home equity release company has made available in the history of equity release & presents many opportunities for retirees to consider their future finances: –

 

  1. Those people with interest only mortgages – where lenders are demanding repayment as the end term has been reached & they are not prepared to extend can benefit from these interest rate reductions. By switching onto the Aviva Flexi Lifetime Mortgage Plan they could consolidate onto a mortgage for life, at a low fixed interest rate, thus enabling them to budget accordingly knowing the interest to be charged in the future.
  1. Existing equity release customers – who are on interest rates that are over 6%pa should consider whether to remain with their existing lender or switch equity release plans. By taking a lower interest rate would mean less interest charged & hence either a lower future balance, or less interest payments to maintain control over the balance. There are factors to consider such as potential early repayment charges & set up costs, however this is a calculation your Equity Release Supermarket adviser can arrange & analyse for you.
  1. Anyone over the age of 55 – who has been contemplating taking a release of equity, but maybe waiting for the optimum interest rate or occasion to apply for it. With the various lifetime mortgage schemes available now including interest only, drawdown & voluntary repayment schemes, the equity release market has never been so competitive.

 

So why have Aviva aggressively reduced their interest rates?

Word has it there are new lenders set to enter the equity release marketplace. With new names entering the market such as L&G and Santander, plus More2life have new funding available, Aviva are sure to find new competitors in their space. Perhaps they are trying to gather as much momentum & market share as possible now before they come under pressure?

 

We have already seen unprecedented movements in equity release interest rates so early in 2015. More2life’s Enhanced Lifetime Mortgage & Interest Choice plans have seen rate reductions, followed by Stonehaven’s Interest Select range in response to keep their market position above More2life. Whatever equity release 2015 has to hold its going to be exciting time and one for any future lifetime mortgage customer can benefit from with the lowest equity release interest rates ever seen.

 

Should you wish to request an Aviva Flexible Lifetime Mortgage quote & find out how low your equity release interest rate could go, please contact Mark Gregory on Freephone 0800 783 9652 or email me at mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

Further information on equity release –

 

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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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How Your Medical History Can Enhance the Maximum Equity Release

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Enhanced lifetime mortgage lifestyle questionnaire

While equity release schemes have been available for many years, the concept of the enhanced equity release seems to have been a more recent addition. However, the history of the impaired equity release has been around for almost a decade.

 

Companies back then such as Partnership & Hodge did offer enhanced or impaired life home reversion schemes. In fact Hodge themselves did have an enhanced lifetime mortgage that was withdrawn only pre credit crunch era. These plans were not sold a great deal and their impact was minimal.

 

More recently enhanced lifetime mortgages have seen a resurgence in popularity as they have been redesigned & improvements made to the underwriting process. Enhancement to an equity release mortgage means that the amount of equity available to you can be increased based on your current or pre-existing health conditions. It works similar to the impaired rates offered from annuity providers whereby based on a medical questionnaire, the lenders underwriters will assess the maximum equity release available.

 

Equity Release providers who currently offer Enhanced Lifetime Mortgage rates are:

  • Aviva
  • More2Life
  • Just Retirement
  • Partnership

Aviva equity release offer 2 plans; the Aviva Lump Sum Max offers a higher loan amount if you qualify for impaired terms. Alternatively, you could benefit from being charged a lower interest rate on the Aviva Lifestyle Flexible Option, with rates starting as low as 5.63% (5.7% representative APR).

 

More2life & Partnership offer a lower qualification threshold than Aviva for qualification on their enhanced lifetime mortgage schemes. Where Aviva offer one enhanced lifetime loan-to-value ratio, More2life & Partnership provide different levels of maximum release based on how serious the impairment is.

 

Just Retirement being specialists in the enhanced annuity market take a more scientific approach & will consider more illnesses including COPD. Their actuaries will individually assess each Lump Sum Plus case to determine the maximum equity release available.

 

What illnesses qualify for an enhanced lifetime mortgage?

 

Most of the impaired health conditions, which can qualify for enhanced terms, are similar with all of the above lenders and include-

  • Height and weight
  • Smoking details
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart attack
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Angina
  • Cancer
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • MS
  • Early retirement due to ill health
  • Even whether prescription medication is being taken

The amount of extra money that you can release depends on three factors; age of the youngest applicant, the value of the property & which conditions you have & the level of severity of each impairment.

 

You may simply qualify for an enhanced lifetime mortgage based on your height and weight which is represented by your BMI (Body Mass Index). Typically, the greater the number of conditions you have, the higher the maximum equity release loan amount that is available.

 

What are the qualifying criteria for an enhanced equity release?

 

The minimum age is 55, which out of the four equity release companies only Aviva will accept and additionally there is no maximum age. Joint life customers can also apply although it’s usually the health of the younger person which affects any enhanced rate. The minimum property value can be as low as £60,000 from More2life while properties must be located in England, Scotland & Wales with Aviva also lending in Northern Ireland. The lowest enhanced equity release available is £10,000 with no upper limit from the likes of Aviva.

 

How much more tax free cash does enhancement provide?

 

A recent client of mine, age 69 had a property valued at £250,000. Based on standard terms he was able to release a maximum equity release loan of £86,250. However, he suffers with high blood pressure and diabetes. Based on his ill-health & completion of a health & lifestyle questionnaire, the loan amount was increased to £104,500 by More2Life, so he was able to release an extra £18,250.

 

He set the More2life enhanced lifetime mortgage plan on a drawdown basis. This enabled them to release an initial £30,000 and still leave a reserve facility of £74,500 with More2life which he can access in the future without incurring further fees. This meant he has the flexibility of a drawdown lifetime mortgage but with the benefit of an enhanced drawdown facility.

 

Will I need to have a medical?

 

The good news is that you won’t have to attend a medical to qualify for enhanced terms. Lenders ask you to complete a health & lifestyle questionnaire and sign to confirm that your medical details are correct. Following submission of the equity release application, each lender may simply write to your doctor to confirm that your conditions are accurate, so that you qualify for the best terms possible.

 

If you are a smoker, they may ask you to undergo a simple non-invasive test and require you to confirm your consumption and the extent of your smoking habit. The test, which they arrange and pay for, is carried out by a qualified nurse in the comfort of your own home.

 

How do I find out if I qualify for enhanced terms?

 

You should always to seek advice from an independent equity release specialist. As part of the process of checking whether equity release is suitable for you or not, we will always ask clients for details of their medical history to ensure that we can tailor any advice to their fit their circumstances. At the end of our initial meeting we would then conduct research from the whole of the equity release market to find the most suitable plan. If you do qualify for an enhanced rate, we can then produce an equity release key facts illustration to explain how the lifetime mortgage works.

 

Where can I get more information?

We have information on all the enhanced products in the compare equity release deals section of our website along with the useful enhanced equity release calculator.

 

If you wish to speak directly with me, please feel free to contact me direct on 07415 275669 or email simon@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk for further information. There’s no obligation and any information you provide is confidential.

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

Saturday, 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 cathy@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

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

Sunday, 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 mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk .

 

Switch Equity Release from Papilio UK – Time is running out

Sunday, 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 mike@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk 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 mike@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

How to Get the Best Aviva Equity Release Deal

Monday, 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.

Can I Move Home with Equity Release?

Wednesday, 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 mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

Equity Release Is For Life, Not Just For Christmas

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

Equity Release is a Lifetime MortgageI recently read an advertisement in a National newspaper extolling the virtues of Equity Release and was surprisingly written on behalf of one of the main equity release brokers based in Preston. All fine I thought until I saw that it was aimed at grandparents struggling to buy Christmas presents for their grandchildren.

 

It created a small furore amongst my colleagues and peers. The blogs were alive with advisers & political commentators slating the fact that equity release was being considered for such short term measures. Not only that, but to take equity release to spend on the grandchildren, would effectively be spending their own inheritance!  With the compounding effect of the interest over the remaining years, this will turn out as one expensive Christmas present.

 

After all, the most popular type of equity release is the lifetime mortgage; appropriately named & for a reason. These schemes are designed for longevity, not short term or for frivolous reasons, where better alternatives may exist.

 

Some were arguing that whatever legal reason people wanted a release of equity for, withdrawing capital was their choice, not ours as advisers, and on the face of it that is correct.

However, when I looked into this scenario further this played on my conscience for personal reasons and I had serious reservations.

 

I have five grand-kids, all under five years old. I had to check with my wife, but on average we spend about £150 to £200 on each. Extravagant ? Maybe. Worth it ? Definitely.

 

With various other gifts for family and friends we spend about £1,500. Agreed not easy on low pension income and little liquid savings.

 

If I was in that position and saw the advertisement I would almost certainly look into the possibility of equity release schemes. I would hope that I would employ the services of an independent equity release adviser i.e. someone like me who would strongly advise not to go down this route.

 

And here are the reasons why:-

  1. The minimum initial lump sum on any equity release scheme is currently £10,000. This would have to equate to £2,000 for this Christmas, £8,000 in the bank for the next 4 Christmases. The cash in the bank may attract 1-3% interest whilst I would be paying up to 6% interest on the mortgage. Not a good idea
  2. The set up fees, depending on the lender, could be as high as £2,000. Acceptable if you are considering a large expense such as buying a new car, a holiday of a lifetime, clearing an mortgage or giving the grand-kids a start in life for house deposit or university fees. Therefore, as a proportion of a £10,000 release, set up costs can be a considerable percentage of the initial release. Not so good to borrow £2,000 for Christmas gifts on this basis.
  3. If, like me, your intended beneficiaries are your grand-kids then they are actually buying their own gifts via their future inheritance. Let’s assume £10,000 on a normal roll-up lifetime mortgage, even on the lowest rate with Aviva Flexi Plan currently at 5.62% (5.8% APR) and deducting the set up costs from this, would in 10 years have accrued to about £17,276. So 10 year’s worth of Christmas gifts has cost £7,276.

 

I applaud the fact that some of the broker companies are bringing Equity Release to the fore and the pros and cons of equity release schemes are highlighted to the general public.

 

As a dedicated Equity Release specialist I am convinced of the merits of raising capital by these means as long as the following measures are taken: –

  • All possible alternatives are discussed with your adviser and broached with the children. Equity release is classed as a loan of last report by ourselves
  • The initial release matches your needs for the first 12 months of your spending plans i.e. don’t take any more than you actually need
  • You receive independent equity release advice from a FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) qualified adviser
  • The schemes recommended are members of the Equity Release Council (ERC) which ensures they come with the equity release code of conduct indoctrinated
  • You receive separate legal representation from that of the lenders. As from 2014, this will need to involve a face-to-face meeting with your solicitor for added protection
  • You receive a Key Facts Illustration and Suitability Report covering all aspects of your adviser’s recommendation including set up costs, interest rate, future balance & early repayment charges.

 

I have personally seen the benefit equity release has made and have the testimonials to show the satisfaction & difference a lifetime mortgage can make to someone’s life.

If taken for the right reasons, under the right circumstances and with the right advice, equity release schemes can prove to be the right choice.

 

If you require further information on whether equity release schemes could be the right choice for you, please contact Barry Adnams on 07989 281108 or email barry@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

 
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