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Archive for the ‘Enhanced Lifetime Mortgage’ Category

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.

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 .

 

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.

New Plans, New Providers, New Horizons – Equity Release 2014

Friday, January 24th, 2014

Equity Release 2014 Having been in the equity release industry for the past 14 years, there has never been as much optimism & confidence in this sector as there is now. Against a backdrop of reductions & barriers to lending in retirement, the equity release marketplace is expanding faster than most other areas of financial services.

 

Equity release 2014 holds the greatest number of reasons why the over 55 age group are now considering equity release schemes as their route to financial freedom & lifestyle improvements.

 

But first we need to understand the issues arising in 2014 for many retirees and how the stress associated with managing retirement finances can be alleviated. Furthermore, we’ll discuss why there is a change in attitude towards equity release, people’s inheritance and how the equity release lenders are developing products to meet the future needs of today’s baby boomers.

 

So why now & what are the reasons?

 

Firstly, it looks like 2013 laid the foundations for the recovery of the equity release market. A record £106billion equity release lending took place, which was a 10% increase on the previous year and this takes us back to the halcyon equity release days of 2006. But the numbers do not explain the underlying reasons, only the resultant effect.

 

I believe the huge growth in demand is down to a number of factors as follows:-

 

 

1. Baby Boomers – Primarily there are a record number of so called ‘baby boomers’ who are reaching retirement age. It is estimated that up until 2018 record numbers of upto 700,000 people will turn 65 each year and begin to draw their pensions and purchase annuities.

 

At that point, once the new financial landscape is established, will it dawn on many that the difference that retirement has made to their disposable incomes & the sacrifices & cut backs that will need to be made. But surely retirement should be time to retire & relax & enjoy the fruits of one’s career?

 

The transition from a paid salary to a reduced fixed pension can be difficult and for some, one many never really come to terms with. There have been many cases at Equity Release Supermarket, whereby following the first few years of retirement we are arranging equity release for the consolidation of debts such as credit cards & loans. This was a result of continued spending following retirement without carrying out what should be a mandatory income & expenditure analysis.

 

 

2. Indebtedness – Many of these baby boomers reaching retirement have grown use to managing debt during their working lives. This generation have lived through vast fluctuations in the economy such as interest rates, inflation & the recent credit crunch. Having come through the worst of this & still showing such positive signs of equity, gives them the confidence of maintaining such debts into retirement. Afterall, this age group are probably the ones with the best repayment history, credit record, guaranteed incomes and all coming with security of tenure in their properties!

 

A recent study showed that one in six over 65’s expect to borrow money in retirement to meet their retirement goals. In fact in the last year alone, 16% of over 65’s applied for a loan or credit card. The issue nowadays is of course that credit is not as readily available and one in ten applications from over 55’s will be declined, as lenders become far less willing to lend into retirement.

 

This applies to mortgages also. Lenders are increasingly calling in mortgage balances from customers aged over 55. It’s estimated 1.3 million households over 55 are still paying their mortgage, of which 289,000 over 65 year olds are still saddled with a mortgage debt! These are the people who will be looking towards equity release solutions in 2014 & beyond.

 

 

3. Interest only Mortgage Prisoners – Worse still are the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) figures confirming the size of the ‘interest only time bomb’ looming. Of the volume of interest only mortgages due for repayment by 2020, 1 in 10 of these mortgages have NO repayment plan and upto 1.3 million interest only borrowers face shortfalls averaging £72,000.

 

So how will these people find these shortfalls and where do they turn for advice?

 

Well as we mentioned, lending into retirement has been constricted by the FCA’s stance and with MMR (Mortgage Market Review) being implemented in April 2014, lenders are under further scrutiny as proof of affordability becomes entirely their responsibility.

 

Therefore, as we are already seeing by the upturn in the volumes of business, the equity release industry is becoming the saviour for the interest only mortgage short fallers. In providing an equity release safety net, many of these trapped borrowers have another option than having reluctantly to sell their homes to fund the shortfall.

 

However, the solution will only be made available should loan-to-values fall within lender criteria, which for lifetime mortgages are currently stand at a maximum of 30% at age 65, rising to a maximum of 54% by age 85. These calculations can be confirmed using the Equity Release Supermarket calculator.

 

However, two further factors could influence these results; health & lifestyle and incomes.

 

Firstly, should a history of adverse health be prevalent then a range of enhanced lifetime mortgage products are available which will release a greater lump sum than standard equity release schemes. Secondly, the signs are more retirement mortgages could be introduced during 2014. Already the Hodge Retirement Mortgage has been bravely launched against the tide of lenders withdrawing such products. Currently, the Hodge Retirement Mortgage will lend upto 50% of the property value at the current interest rate of 4.75% (5.1% APR), subject to income(s). Click here for details on the Hodge Retirement Mortgage or call 0800 678 5159.

 

 

4. House Purchase/Moving Home – we are seeing the data already in 2014 from mortgage lenders regarding the upturn in mortgage lending which has been due to the housing market improving significantly. With support from the government with its ‘Help to Buy’ scheme, this has stimulated the housing market from the bottom end and resulted in a knock on effect up the ladder.

 

We are seeing an increasing number of Equity Release Supermarket clients using interest only lifetime mortgage products to assist with their house purchase. We can advise on products from Stonehaven, Hodge Lifetime & more2life whereby the interest element & possibly more can be repaid back to the lender with no penalty, & are becoming a high percentage of our overall equity release plan recommendations.

 

Additionally, we are experiencing retirees at a critical point in their lives looking to downsize, or move nearer to their families. This could be for disability or financial reasons and moving into a retirement properties where less maintenance is required. Purchasing such property may still require finance to bridge any shortfalls, or create surplus funds for other financial/personal reasons.

 

 

5. Burgeoning Confidence & Optimism – There has been a silver lining to the issues of retirement finance…PROPERTY. Staggeringly, 69% of the over 65 year old population own their home outright & unencumbered. The most recent research has calculated the over 65’s own a combined £752 billion in housing wealth!

 

With this kind of security behind them and the changing attitude towards inheritance is beginning to shape the equity release landscape we are seeing & being developed as we speak. Traditionally, roll-up equity release schemes were the norm. Compounding of interest put many people off releasing equity. As a consequence, interest only lifetime mortgages have come to the fore. In being able to control the balance by making regular or ad-hoc repayments, one can now maintain a level balance, or even reduce it year-on-year. We have evidenced the growth in inheritance protection via lifetime mortgages and will become another of the factors affecting the growth in equity release for 2014.

 

Flexibility is key for many now entering the market. One major step forward for equity release mortgages came with the advent of drawdown lifetime mortgages. Here borrowers can withdraw tax free cash in stages from a pre-agreed facility. Drawdown equity release now accounts for over 64% of all plans written during 2013. Hence, another good factor to influence the popularity moving into 2014.

 

Finally, we have the latest news there will be a new equity release provider in early February – Pure Retirement will be entering the market with an initial 2 product launch, followed by more products they anticipate later in the year. This comes hot on heels of recent press murmurings over the weekend that L&G could soon be re-entering the equity release arena after originally departing in 2004 when they white labelled Northern Rocks equity release proposal. There is also much product development behind the scenes with Aviva revamping their lifetime mortgage. Details once known will follow on this website.

 

All this development and equity release press coverage stokes up the interest in a market that has previously been in the doldrums, but has listened to the consumer & now developing products to match retirement planning needs.

 

Summary – Equity Release 2014

Equity Release will take off in 2014 because providers have listened to their customers and they can be very demanding and rightly so. Customers want flexibility, they’ve got it, Customers want no early repayment charges, they’ve now got it, Customers want to repay capital without penalty, they’ve got it, Customers want to pay off the interest, they’ve got it, and customers want to partially repay the interest without being tied or committed, guess what? …they’ve got it!

 

There has never been a better time to consider equity release, so here’s to looking forward to 2014.

 

Call freephone 0800 678 5159 to discuss any aspects of this article or complete our contact form to register for 2014 updates as & when they are announced.

 

 

How Equity Release Can Help You ‘Upsize’ while ‘Downsizing’

Monday, September 30th, 2013

downsizing in retirementWe often read comments in newspapers, or see reports on TV, that before taking equity release you should always consider your alternatives, as there maybe financial solutions that have not been previously considered. One of these which has created much debate recently is the possibility of downsizing.

 

This article, discusses the advantages of downsizing and how equity release schemes can still have an important role to play in such situations.

 

Equity Release versus Downsizing

The practice of downsizing, effectively means selling one property at a higher value than the one you wish to move into. Therefore, the equity generated from the price differential can be used to support you financially during retirement. This is usually the main reason for people deciding against taking equity release.

Downsizing is fine in principle, and it is one of the options Equity Release Supermarket advisers always discuss with clients. However, for economic and personal reasons, the idea of downsizing can be impractical.

 

Equity Release Case Study – How downsizing works in principle

Take for example Peter and Clare, both aged 73 and living in their semi-detached house worth £275,000 which they’ve owned for over 30 years. They are settled in the area, their family and friends are local to them and they feel comfortable and safe in their current surroundings.

Unfortunately, they still have a mortgage of £100,000 and the lender has informed them they will need to repay this by the time they reach the age of 75. Like many people in their situation, they do not have the money set aside to do so. Their family are in no position to help as they too are struggling to keep their own heads above water!

 

So what are their options?

  1. They could sell up, pay off the mortgage and look for another lower valued property. After taking into consideration the costs of moving this would mean considering properties around £165,000. Unfortunately, there are no properties of this value nearby, as even smaller properties locally that would still cost them in the region of £200,000.
  2. Consider a remortgage with another lender. This would involve switching their £100,000 mortgage to another lender. However, most high street banks & building societies will not allow borrowing beyond the age of 70, or even 75.

The only option it would seem is to have to move further away, to an area they would not feel comfortable with, and considering this would be their last ever move, it must be the right decision as happiness during retirement is key. This situation leads to anxiety and stress for the couple as their network of friends and family would no longer be around them and they would be moving to an unknown location which may turn out to be both undesirable and unpopular.

 

Therefore, only option 1 is feasible, but there is still the issue that the property would not be entirely suitable for their requirements moving forward.

 

Revised Case Study – The maths of upsizing

Let’s revisit option 1 again, as there is some good news for those that wish to downsize.

 

Equity release schemes can actually allow you to ‘up-size’ when moving house by using the equity release tax free cash to help fund the purchase of the new property. This would mean Peter & Clare still purchasing of a lower valued house. However, by using a new equity release plan in conjunction with the purchase, they can now attain property values of around £200,000+, which they needed to stay near to where they currently live.

 

Taking Peter & Clare’s example again. The couple are both aged 73. Using the Equity Release Supermarket calculator, they could borrow upto £78,000 on a property worth £200000, on a roll-up lifetime mortgage basis.

 

This would enable them to purchase the £200,000 property; by using £165,000 of their own equity, plus the difference coming from an equity release plan. In fact given the equity release calculation figures they could go even higher if they wished to do so, or even use some of the surplus to have a small emergency fund for the future which is missing at the moment.

 

Now Peter & Clare have come to terms with the downsizing, the couple can now consider fine tuning their equity release solutions.

 

In fact, they could consider a lender allowing interest payments – commonly known as an interest only lifetime mortgage provided by companies such as Stonehaven. These off-set the effect of the rolled up interest, but unlike their existing mortgage which comes to an end in two years’ time, a scheme such as Stonehaven’s Interest Select Plan would be open-ended and therefore run for the rest of their life.

 

In some cases, depending on their state of health, Peter & Clare may be eligible for more money if they could take advantage of enhanced lifetime mortgage rates offered by some lenders. These enhanced lifetime mortgage schemes can lend more than any standard lifetime mortgage & give that extra amount making all the difference.

 

Upsizing Summary

So as a solution, what does this up-sizing option offer: –

  • The opportunity for the couple to repay their existing mortgage in full
  • To move to a location near to their current property, ensuring that they can maintain the support of family and friends
  • To continue to live in a safe environment with familiar surroundings including local amenities which have become increasingly important to them, such as their doctor and local hospital along with good transport links and shop
  • To purchase a property which they’re happy with rather than taking on a property ‘because they have no choice’

 

To down-size is an option which may be suitable to some, but like all decisions taken it needs careful consideration. This is where specialist equity release advice can make all the difference to retirees making such important financial decisions in retirement.

Having an alternative in the form of equity release scheme or interest only lifetime mortgage may enable them to make a decision based on a more practical  solution and providing clients ‘peace of mind’, something which is not commonly advised upon in the news.

 

Equity Release Supermarket has experienced advisers who have dealt with such situations & can therefore make all the difference to people over 55 & in retirement.

 

If you wish to ask, or discuss anything with regards to his article with our team please call Freephone 0800 678 5159 or email admin@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

 
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