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Legal & General Equity Release – Visionary Views & Sea Change Needed

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

Legal and General Equity releaseThe equity release marketplace in 2015 has been undergoing a period of growth and innovation which has been long overdue. There are major factors influencing this potential golden generation of competitive equity release plans. Helping matters has been a new big brand household name – Legal & General who are aiming to take a large share of equity release business, but not necessarily in the conventional manner.

 

Realising the lifetime mortgage market needs a sea change in order to reach the heady predictions made, Legal & General are almost starting with a blank canvas & fresh approach to how equity release UK plans are marketed & advised. These ideas I’m sure will soon be rolled-out to the equity release broker community, who need to awaken to the concept of change, not much of which has really been seen over the past few years.

 

Personally, equity release brokers & lenders need a complete overhaul of its thinking & messages it needs to portray to the consumer to build confidence. Conventionality needs to be erased & brought into the 21st century using the latest of technology & wider distribution. This shouldn’t be just by one or two brokers strangling the marketplace, effectively restricting the entry of new lenders/funders, but an across the board approach by everyone (brokers & providers) working together.

 

Furthermore, for growth, new advisers are needed to be brought in from outside the industry & trained to meet the rigorous measures imposed by the Equity Release Council to ensure safe route to market for the consumer. There is a shortage of quality equity release advisers which needs immediately addressing, otherwise how can the market grow?

 

Legal and General Home Finance ‘Sea Change’

Let’s analyse what Legal and General Home Finance have achieved since entering the equity release arena by acquiring NewLife Mortgages in early 2015. They have provided a series of plans which have effectively matched the best crop of products in the market at entry point. Features such as the 10% voluntary repayment option, lowest interest rate, high loan-to-value products & inheritance protection facility have competed significantly well against its peers, such as Aviva Equity Release.

 

Understandably Legal and General had to start somewhere & their efforts so far are commendable. With product research underway & their own analysis of how the market should look moving forward, we welcome a fresh voice & innovative product development. With electronic applications & valuation instructions to commence in the New Year, these are exciting times for the industry, but not before time. Branding themselves as Legal & General Home Finance indicates their proposition will be more diverse than just traditional equity release plans.

 

Areas where development is needed is greater flexibility for all pre & post retirement homeowners and remedying the issues for the over 55’s sensibly borrowing into retirement which MMR has stunted. We have seen how the Marsden Retirement Mortgage has filled a niche in post lending advice & this gap between equity release schemes & residential mortgages is a void that needs consideration. Equity release plans in their current state, albeit the most flexible ever, will not meet the future needs & demands for all retirees. New ideas and new forms of retirement mortgages are needed, but maybe one’s that somehow interact with lifetime mortgages, switching between as the homeowner’s future circumstances dictate.

 

 

Can Legal & General Exert Influence?

There is a vision for the expected growth in post-retirement lending, which some market analysts have projected could reach £5billion by 2020! This is still a mere drop in the ocean compared to the residential mortgage market of over £200 billion, yet there is still almost £1 trillion in untapped equity remaining in the over 55’s property portfolio’s. Is the figure even realistic? Not in its current format & lenders thought process. This is why Legal & General’s introduction could be what the market needs.

 

We are aware of the history of equity release schemes, resulting in the lack of confidence with many retirees & press alike. However with the efforts from Nigel Waterson from the Equity Release Council & the voice of important members of the equity release sector such as Andrea Rosario, the market is starting to answer back. In essence, the external adverse publicity maybe due to lack of knowledge of equity release and of how the newer breed of lifetime mortgage schemes work in practice & how it’s strictly regulated by the FCA. But this is where the equity release industry has plotted its own downfall. Lenders themselves should stand up more & be accountable, especially when adverse publicity arises, as it tends to be the market correspondents alone who respond.

 

Frustration ensues when column inches and comments about equity release are misconstrued. But that will happen when the market is so inhibited by a few brokers who have their own interests at heart. We already have an ‘equity release club’ in the industry, but designed for brokers for equity release referral purposes. Equity release brokers themselves should form their own ‘club’, thus joining forces and work out they can ALL assist the growth in the equity release sector. A new era of consumer openness and transparency needs to develop so there is a clear voice representing the industry, with a collective approach from ALL, not just the monopoly of a few.

 

A Sea-Change of attitude, products, innovation and lenders is what’s required for equity release & retirement lending as a whole, to progress. At least one of these requirements seems to have been met, with the household name of Legal and General becoming a new lifetime mortgage provider. The next 12 months may define the future of this industry. These could be exciting times for all those involved from brokers through to lenders, but not forgetting the true beneficiaries to all this – homeowners over the age of 55 who genuinely need a mortgage vehicle to enhance their retirement!

 

For further information on the range of Legal & General equity release schemes, please contact Mark Gregory – mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk or call 07966 889597.

How the New Marsden Retirement Mortgage Can Help Boost Equity Release Lending

Saturday, September 26th, 2015

Marsden Retirement MortgageEquity release specialists are crying out for greater innovation in its product range to lenders at a time when the lifetime mortgage market potentially enters the biggest growth phase of its history. Failure to do so could result in products such as the new Marsden Building Society Retirement Mortgage & the Vernon Interest Only Retirement Mortgage shaping retirement lending to the over 55’s in the years to come.

 

Here I would like to share my views on why the equity release industry needs a major rethink of its products, understands more of its consumer requirements & how some of the smaller lenders such as Marsden & Vernon may have an impact on this thought process, even future product design.

 

Is Equity Release Innovating Sufficiently?

The launch in September 2015 of the Marsden Retirement Mortgage could represent a wake up call to equity release companies, which until now have offered little in the way of sweeping changes, consistent with driving the post retirement lending market forward.

 

Until now, lending into retirement has been hampered by the after effects of MMR (Mortgage Market Review) and how lenders gauge affordability for pensioner mortgages. This has seen terms ‘interest only time bomb’ being banded about as high street lenders start reigning in their mortgage book, when normally then would have renewed or extended mortgage terms. This has left mortgagors stranded with the dilemma of having to decide whether to sell & downsize, or find alternative lending such as lifetime mortgages.

 

These mortgage prisoners have been one of the main reasons why the equity release industry has seen major growth recently & should not be fooled somewhat into thinking it itself has played a part in its own expansion. Equity release must not become Mr Complacency. People looking to offload their traditional mortgages in favour of a voluntary repayment lifetime mortgage or interest only lifetime mortgage has been clearly evident at Equity Release Supermarket. This market has still not reached its peak, yet innovative products are still out of reach for this purge in demand awaiting redemption & rebirth.

 

The Corridor of Uncertainty that exists between Residential Mortgages & Equity Release

With some recent relaxation in retirement lending rules, some residential mortgage lenders are set to take advantage by introducing retirement mortgage products that can fill the ‘corridor of uncertainty’ between the traditional mortgage market & equity release schemes. This void exists due to the gap in both distribution and the advisory process, but mainly the lack of products that can fill this area.

 

For instance people looking to borrow at age 60 over say a 20 year term looking for a 40% release of equity would struggle currently to raise such an amount. The reason being mortgage lenders are frowning upon lending beyond 70-75 and equity release providers have loan-to-value ratios at 60 that are insufficient to release this amount. So where can these people go?

 

Their prospects are currently limited to several companies, one of which is only accessible via advisers with lifetime mortgage permissions. This is the creditable Hodge Retirement Mortgage. Several smaller, local building societies will lend on an individually underwritten basis, but are obscure in research and not looking for large mortgage books for this kind of product. We saw this effect when the Halifax Retirement Home Plan eventually had to be withdrawn due to demand in July 2011.

 

The future of the equity release market lies in the hands of the lenders who define the products on offer to the over 55 lifetime mortgage brigade. 2015 for me is the landmark year that could evidence how these products are to be aligned in the years to come. With the upheaval to annuity sales and the new pension freedoms in place, equity release has remained too rigid in concept, yet has seen buoyancy, despite its many detractors in the press. Yes this is positive news, yet does not address the underlying issues within the equity release industry.

 

How Non-Traditional Equity Release Companies Can offer Equity Release

Recent news & industry talk is that smaller traditional building society’s are set to move in to the retirement lending space, which effectively could throw a spanner in the works of some equity release lenders and advisory firms who do not embrace these products. The term ‘equity release’ is generic, yet advisers & product providers alike, associate this term with either a lifetime mortgage or home reversion scheme.

Wrong! Equity release simply attributes itself to any form of mortgage vehicle then enables the release of equity from a homeowner’s property. The industry needs to move away from the stigma of historic equity release terminology & move into a new era of flexibility, innovation & a market not defined by just 9 lenders offering copycat products. If these lenders do not embrace the changes needed, other traditional lenders could spot their opportunity & move in.

 

This has started already. With news of two new bold retirement mortgages from what would be classed as two of the somewhat ‘smaller’ building societies. The first to launch was the Vernon Building Society’s Interest Only Retirement Mortgage with two rates dependent upon whether a LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney) was in place & registered with the Court of Protection; an unusual move, but clever thinking behind this. The Vernon’s non-LPA rate at 4.45% (4.9% representative APR) is actually higher than the Hodge Retirement Mortgage at 4.39% (4.7% representative APR), so a welcome addition, but not groundbreaking.

 

Why the Marsden Retirement Mortgage is Competitively Advantaged

The launch of the Marsden Retirement Mortgage plan is significantly different to the Hodge Retirement Mortgage. The Marsden has no affiliation with the Equity Release Council and therefore no constraints with regards to no negative equity guarantees and membership. This can provide greater freedom & the passage of savings in interest, clearly evident on this products launch interest rates of either 2.79% or 2.99% discounted rates, dependent on whether the interest only, or capital & interest route is selected.

 

The Marsden Building Society have made this semi exclusive retirement mortgage plan only available only through qualified intermediaries. This is not a direct to consumer product and is a move commensurate with ensuring best advice is given to a potentially vulnerable age group.

 

The Marsden Retirement Mortgage Product in Finer Detail

The minimum age at application for this mortgage in retirement product is age 55, with a maximum term being 30 years, hence this is not a lifetime mortgage. It is available to anyone looking to make a new house purchase, remortgage away from an existing mortgage provider, maybe due to expiry, or even general capital raising purposes where no mortgage exists currently. This could be for home improvements, gifting to children/family or any other lifestyle choices that make an improvement to their standard of living in retirement.

 

This Marsden pensioner mortgage is available on an interest only retirement mortgage basis or even capital & repayment. The option selected will be reflected in the interest rate which at launch in September 2015 are discounted until 31.01.18 at which point it will revert to the Marsden standard variable rate currently 5.95%. At this point no early repayment charges will exist.

 

The minimum release of equity is £50,000 and the maximum loan that would be considered is £500,000. Properties are accepted in England & Wales only & must be valued at least £200,000.

 

Set up costs are competitive priced compared to equity release schemes. There is a free valuation on properties upto £500,000 and booking fee & arrangement fees of £299 each. For remortgages a fee assisted package is available where standard legals fees are covered along with free valuation fee as previously mentioned.

 

Other essential features of this retirement mortgage are as follows: –

 

  • Income multiples are 4.5x single & joint incomes, subject to affordability checks
  • Minimum income levels are £20,000pa, either single or joint.
  • Only pension income can be accepted, but rental & investment income can be considered
  • Maximum loan-to-values are 40% for interest-only & 60% for repayment mortgages
  • For interest only a sensible repayment method must be in place at the end of the term

 

Summary

The way forward for the post retirement lending arena is a swathe of flexible, transparent mortgage plans that meet the varied need of retirees. Whether this be a lifetime mortgage, retirement mortgage or interest only lifetime mortgage the key word is CHOICE. The Marsden Retirement Mortgage is just the start of new lenders filling the void between equity release plans & standard residential mortgages.

 

For more information & advice on which form of equity release is best for you, or to request a Marsden Retirement Mortgage quote, please contact Mark Gregory on 07966 889597 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

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.

 

 

Are you Releasing the Potential from your Retirement Apartment?

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

Releasing equity on a retirement apartmentWith an ever increasing ageing population, more and more retired homeowners find that their properties are becoming too big to live in. In conjunction with this another significant financial burden is the ever increasing energy costs associated with heating larger properties.

 

This could mean that they make a choice whether to ‘eat or heat’.  An old cliché yes, but a very apt and true one.

 

Specialist housing, or retirement apartments have been around for more than 30 years and just 1% of over 60’s are estimated to live in these types of properties.  For most, moving to a retirement property can ease the pressure of excessive bills, plus give a new lease of life and community spirit.

 

For others though, a retirement apartment could be seen as not being financially prudent or comes with some uncertainty for a number of reasons:

  1. Location: Specialist retirement apartments may be more expensive than the value of your own home.
  2. Service charges: These are payable annually, and in line with inflation, they tend to be an increasing sum.
  3. Pension income: May suddenly be reduced upon the demise of an occupier.

If you already live in a retirement apartment, you may have the concern that with increasing costs and service charges, you may not be able to maintain your cost of living, and have the worry of potentially needing to sell.

 

Did you know however, that there could be a solution?

 

As an Equity Release Specialist, I have over the last 12 years been able to provide homeowners with an alternate way of being able to purchase a retirement apartment or to raise funds to cover on-going costs and services if you already reside in one.

 

Firstly, if you are looking to purchase a retirement apartment, by releasing equity, you could raise the shortfall between the sale of your current home and the purchase price of your proposed new property.  The equity release could be raised on your new property and would complete at the same time as your sale and purchase. The equity release application could also be on a roll-up, or even interest only lifetime mortgage basis to fit in with one’s inheritance requirements, or household budget.

 

Secondly, if you are already residing in a retirement apartment, you could have the option of releasing equity to cover your annual service charges.  This could be by way of a lump sum lifetime mortgage which additionally has the option of a cash drawdown facility. This would particularly suit those looking to take annual withdrawals to supplement their income & cover the costs of maintaining residence in their retirement home. The drawdown facilities with many equity release schemes can allow as little as £1000 withdrawals at a time to suit those not wishing to withdraw too much.

 

Case study 1

Mr & Mrs F lived in the West Midlands, but had always dreamed of retiring to the coast and live out their remaining years in the peace and tranquility of a property with a sea view.  Their 3 bedroom house was worth £175,000.00 and they wanted to downsize.  Mr F was not in particularly good health and he wanted to make sure that Mrs F didn’t have the financial worry or burden that their large home would have if he pre-deceased her.  Downsizing though didn’t necessarily mean down-pricing.  The purchase price of their dream apartment by the sea was £200,000.00, meaning a shortfall of £25,000.00 plus the associated moving costs.

By giving Mr & Mrs F full impartial equity release advice and recommendation, I was able to offer them a Lifetime Mortgage lump sum through a specialist interest only lifetime mortgage lender for £35,000.00.  This allowed them to cover both the £25,000.00 shortfall to facilitate the purchase, plus £10,000.00 for moving costs. Overall, this not only assisted with the purchase of their retirement apartment by the sea, but also enabled them to live there in financial comfort.

 

Case study 2

Mrs S was already living in her retirement apartment when there was the untimely demise of her husband.  Now just in receipt of her own pension, Mrs S was concerned that she would not be able to cover the on-going living expenses.

The service charges amounted to £2,704.00 per annum (£52.00 per week) and being on a reduced pension, Mrs S would struggle to maintain her standard of living plus pay her normal household expenses.  Being a specialist in equity release, I was able to advise Mrs S of her options, including a full benefits check.

 

Mrs S was just over the threshold for benefits, therefore I could look at the option of a drawdown lifetime mortgage.  Mrs S released an initial amount of £10,800.00 to cover four years’ service charges, leaving her with a remaining cash reserve of £21,600.00.  The drawdown facility allowed Mrs S to release sufficient funds each year thereafter to pay her service charges on an annual basis.

 

How Equity Release Supermarket can help…

Over the years, I have helped many clients in the same or similar situation and have such pride in doing the job I love and being able to assist purchasers and homeowners alike. Being independent lifetime mortgage advisers Equity Release Supermarket have vast experience in assisting its clients with retirement apartment purchases or releasing equity on them.

 

In addition we have access to the best equity release deals including cashback, free valuations and specially reduced interest rates. We always offer a free initial consultation, to see whether we can assist the over 55’s with retirement mortgages and financial help.

 

If you would like more information on how these equity release plans work, please contact Marcelle on 0800 783 9652. Alternatively, please email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

Hodge Lifetime Launch New Innovative Retirement Mortgage Plan

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Equity Release Supermarket can today announce the launch of  the new Hodge Lifetime Retirement Mortgage Plan.

 

Only available through a selected number of intermediaries, the plan aims to provide a solution to the crisis surrounding the repayment of interest only mortgages.

 

Many articles have been written highlighting the plight of 2.6 million interest only mortgage holders who have no repayment strategy in place at the end of their mortgage term. Today marks the equity release industries response to this crisis.

 

On 1st August 2013, Hodge is launching its alternative interest only lifetime mortgage solution called the Hodge Lifetime Retirement Mortgage Plan.

 

Reasons for the Hodge’s launch

Hodge Lifetime has identified the growing crisis in people approaching retirement with interest only mortgages and no exit strategy. There have been many reasons for this situation such as poorly performing endowments, pension plans, ISA’s or simply that no repayment plan was ever in force.

 

The question for interest only mortgagors is how are they ever going to repay the mortgage balance?

 

Equity Release Supermarket is experiencing an increasing number of enquiries by people looking for an emergency repayment route from their existing mortgage provider. Where once lenders were willing to extend the mortgage term, under new FCA guidelines there is now a reluctance to extend the mortgage term, leaving repayment as the only option.

 

The options available to repay this debt include downsizing property, remortgage to an equity release scheme, transfer to another interest only mortgage, or cash in any available investments. Each of these can present their own set of problems.

 

For those looking to downsize is the ability to sell the property within the timescales provided by the mortgage lender. Equity release schemes may present limitations as to how much they can lend as they are based on a loan-to-value ratio. Depending on age, a conventional mortgage may not be available as they will not usually lend beyond age 75. Investments may not be available if used for income, or even present at all.

 

How The Hodge Retirement Mortgage Plan Can Help

Hodge Lifetime is launching a mortgage product to compare to the Halifax Retirement Home Plan which proved immensely popular until its withdrawal in August 2011.

 

Similar in concept, it enables people between the ages of 55-70 to remortgage their properties for any purpose. The amount borrowed is based on income multiples rather than a loan-to value ratio, as with equity release schemes.

 

Monthly payments of interest are then made to the lender until age 80, effectively maintaining a level mortgage balance. At that point a decision can be made as to whether you wish to continue with the payments for life, or cease & allow the interest to roll-up thereafter. The latter option would result in the mortgage balance thereafter increasing for the duration of the term.

 

The Hodge Lifetime Retirement Mortgage is eventually repaid upon death, or sale of the property.

 

By using affordability as the basis for lending criteria means people on good retirement incomes can borrow upto 50% of the property value with Hodge, subject to income. Compare this to the current interest only lifetime mortgage lender – Stonehaven, who would only lend a maximum of 19% at age 55.

 

Therefore, on a property valuation of £250,000 the difference between the two schemes is a significant £77,500.

 

Features of the Hodge Lifetime Plan

  • Flexible Repayment – Hodge will allow 10% capital repayment each year upto year 6 with no penalty
  • Fixed Early Repayment Charge (ERC) – over the first 5 years the penalty decreases from 5% down to 1% of the capital repaid. No ERC exists after year 6.
  • Fixed Interest Rate – 4.75% for 5 years, renewable thereafter (5.1% APR)
  • Minimum Loan – £20,000; Maximum Loan – £500,000
  • Eligible Income – basic state pension, pension schemes, annuity payments, SERPS or S2P
  • No Negative equity Guarantee – ensures the loan can never be greater than the property value
  • Location – available in England, Wales & mainland Scotland

 

This a lifetime mortgage. To understand the features & risks please ask for a personalised illustration.

Your home maybe repossessed if you do not maintain repayments on a mortgage secured on your home.

 

For further details, or to request a quote on the Hodge Lifetime Retirement Mortgage Plan please call the equity release team on freephone 0800 678 5469 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

Equity Release Becomes the New Inter Generational Equity Vehicle

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

With changing attitudes towards inheritance planning, and generational gifting becoming increasing common practice, we look at why equity release is being more widely used as the retirement vehicle of choice.

Having advised on equity release schemes for the past 14 years, we’ve witnessed firsthand the sea change in perceptions over how much of an inheritance parents are now wishing to leave their children.

 

Couple this with the growing acceptance of retirement equity release schemes by the over 55’s, we are now seeing real evidence through equity release enquiries the lengths parents are actually prepared to go to for their children.

 

Why a shift towards equity release?

In the early days of lifetime mortgage & home reversion plans, people were looking towards a release of equity mainly for lifestyle purposes; a new car, holiday or extra income. Today’s economic environment throws a different light on the real purposes for releasing equity – necessity (mainly debt consolidation) and generational gifting.

 

Equity release schemes are now providing a vehicle of choice for many that were once looking towards the retirement mortgage market when they reached state pension age. With schemes such as the Halifax Retirement Home Plan now being made redundant & mortgagees reigning in their lending criteria on the much maligned interest only mortgage, it has left little scope for retirees to find a route into secured lending.

 

How can equity release schemes assist?

Basically anyone over the age of 55, with a main residence valued above £70,000 could become eligible for an equity release mortgage. Further criteria does apply, such as any existing mortgage, property type etc, however in principle age & valuation are the main eligibility factors.

 

To ascertain your maximum release, tools such as our equity release calculator are available on the Equity Release Supermarket website. Based on the age of the youngest applicant & the current sale value of your home, the equity release calculation will prove of assistance as to whether you can raise sufficient funds to meet your financial objectives.

 

For those with an outstanding mortgage leading upto, or actually in retirement, equity release schemes have become a get out of jail card. Having a mortgage at retirement is not a crime, however the ability to repay it has become a problem for many as lenders are beginning to tighten their belts on mortgages into retirement. We have instances of clients anticipating renewal of their mortgage at retirement, only to see panic set in when their lender refuses to extend & then rub salt in the wound by demanding repayment. This would ultimately result in either a remortgage, which is becoming increasingly difficult, or sale of the property to downsize. Neither offer stress free options!

 

Bearing in mind these mortgages were actually set up with a final repayment end date, one cannot always expect in today’s economic environment the banks to be that sympathetic in such instances. However, some leniency would be welcomed, or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

 

Equity release functionality

We have therefore seen how people are entering retirement still tied down with a mortgage. However, there are also an increasing number with unsecured debts, predominantly credit cards which people have trouble shifting once their income drops entering retirement. Perhaps realisation that there income has fallen hasn’t yet set in, which coupled with household spending continuing apace, sees the error of their ways without re-addressing the fundamental principle of ‘budgeting’.

 

The ‘equity release safety net‘ is becoming a credible solution for many in such situations. By taking a lifetime mortgage scheme, whether on a roll-up basis or more commonly an interest only lifetime mortgage, the debts can be consolidated into a secured loan fixed for the rest of their life. Depending on affordability once the debts were cleared, and attitude towards children’s inheritance, would determine whether the interest only, or roll-up version is selected.

 

Choosing roll-up means NO monthly payments. This has a benefit in leaving a household budget with a greater disposable income, particularly if all debts have been repaid. The negative aspect of roll-up is that the balance will increase over time therefore eroding, all or some of the kid’s inheritance. There are other factors that could affect the size of the inheritance, the main one being how much property values could increase by over their lifetime. Everyone has their own opinion on that.

 

Selecting an interest only lifetime mortgage engages an element of future discipline in that regular payments need to be maintained. However, there are significant advantages. These are that as the interest is being paid monthly, the debt will remain level for the duration. This has the added benefit that if house prices do increase, there could be an even larger inheritance to leave, even after you have taken a release of equity for yourself. With interest rates on these schemes starting at 5.59% (6.0% APR) and fixed for life, interest only lifetime mortgages now offer a credible equity release solution for many that were starting to despair at their lack of options.

 

Equity release gifting acts as a form of ‘early inheritance’

Finally, we touch on the growing realisation that children seem to have of accessing their inheritance now, rather than later. With difficulty for first time buyers in the current property market, the younger generation have turned to the bank of mum & dad for the answer to getting on the property ladder – using equity release.

 

This has been the biggest change in attitude we have seen in the 14 years of equity release schemes.

 

It has been two-fold: –

  1. the acceptance of parents to gift an inheritance now rather than later
  2. that the stigma of having to leave an inheritance when they die has gone

 

Increasingly, parents are taking equity out of their properties to gift to their children, mainly to invest in another property, occasionally for business or divorce purposes. It maybe all too easy for the children to say they would like their inheritance now, which is all well & fine if this is being taken out of their parents house & re-invested into their first property. Couple this with the governments help to buy scheme & providing 20% deposits leaves some children not having to strain themselves too much financially these days, judging by the many options available.

 

A great idea or not?

Some may say so; others may feel that the younger generation gets it too easy these days. Mortgages of old were also hard to come by & you had to save over a long period of time to find your deposit. Your lender even had to be the bank you held your account with!

It just seems the ‘I want it now’ attitude has arrived & the old fashioned ways of striving to find the deposit seem to have disappeared.

 

Whatever the consensus of opinion is, equity release is here to stay and finding such helpful scenarios of inter-generational gifting to become an advantage is certainly to be welcomed.

 

To discuss the topical areas within this article, or find out more about equity release and its uses, please contact the Equity Release Supermarket team on Freephone 0800 678 5159.

 

If you prefer to discuss in confidence, please send your email to mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

Are Self Cert Mortgages Available in Retirement?

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Self-certification mortgages are mortgages that are available without a formal income check. Self cert mortgages can be a good option for self-employed or independent professionals who would otherwise have a hard time finding a mortgage lender. Self-certification mortgages are also now available within the retirement sector, in conjunction with the right equity release advice.

 

In fact, lifetime mortgages and pensioner mortgages where the repayment vehicle is the sale of the property are all essentially self-certification mortgages as they do not depend on the income of the applicant. The lending criteria for these pensioner mortgages are mainly the age of the applicant and the property valuation.

 

For instance, Stonehaven’s Interest Select Plan is an interest only lifetime mortgage. Clients can borrow a tax free lump sum against the value of their property. Interest can be repaid in full every month, and the principle amount of the loan is repaid when the property is sold. In fact, Stonehaven equity release will allow you to set up a partial repayment facility, if the full amount of interest is out of your budget range. Therefore, rather than all the interest being repaid, a contribution towards this amount is paid.

 

Therefore, rather than the balance remaining level for the duration of the lifetime interest only mortgage, there will be an element of roll-up interest, albeit significantly lower than if no repayments were made at all. This scenario is ideal for candidates who are risk averse and wish to control the future balance of these pensioner mortgages for their children’s inheritance.

 

Being a lifetime mortgage, there is no fixed term and the loan will continue indefinitely, which will be until sale of the property, which is usually on death or moving into long term care.

 

Self Cert 2013 Lending Criteria

The lending criteria for this loan are based on the age of the youngest applicant and the value of the property. Plans start at age 55 with a minimum property valuation to qualify of £70,000. The property can now be situated in England, Wales & mainland Scotland.

 

As long as applicants can make the minimum monthly repayment of £25, there is no question of requesting income. Stonehaven’s Interest Select plan can therefore be safely categorised as a self cert mortgage. Once the mortgage is set up however, the premiums cannot be amended, other than to stop interest payments completely and convert to a roll-up lifetime mortgage plan. This feature can be used as a safety net in case the mortgage becomes unaffordable in the future & effectively prevents a situation whereby normally repossession would ensue. Repossession for none payment of premiums cannot therefore occur with the Stonehaven Interest Select Plan.

 

Another feature that appeals in today’s economic climate is that of adverse credit or poor credit rating. These lifetime interest only mortgages have leniency towards this. They will permit arrears and defaults. Additionally, they will accept CCJ’s (County Court Judgements) upto a certain level as long as they are repaid from the proceeds and were for understandable reasons.

 

Like most equity release schemes, Stonehaven base the lending on a loan-to-value principle. Stonehaven have four tiers of loan-to-values and each comes with its own interest rate. In essence the more you borrow against the value of your house the higher the interest rate becomes. Conversely, the older you are the greater the amount that can be borrowed, hence it is important you receive independent equity release advice to assess which tiered rate of interest applies and is best for you.

 

For instance a male aged 65 with a property value of £250,000 could release the following with Stonehaven: –

 

 Product Name

Maximum Borrowing

Interest Rate

Loan-to-Value

 Interest Select Lite

£52,500

5.99%

21%

 Interest Select

£60,000

6.08%

24%

 Interest Select Plus

£67,500

6.17%

27%

 Interest Select Max

£72,500

6.81%

29%

 

Who else provides self cert lifetime mortgages on an interest only basis?

Other pensioner mortgages are becoming increasingly available such as the more2Life Interest Choice Plan. This is another self-certification mortgages whereby no income checks are made by the lender. The mortgage is only repaid once the property is sold, which is when the client dies or moves into permanent care, or decides to make an early sale for any other reason.

 

Self-certification mortgages are not very common in the regular residential mortgage sector as lenders are reluctant and wary of lending without formal income checks under FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) regulations. Interest rates are often higher and the loan to value ratio may be lower than traditional mortgages. However, they have been designed with security in mind, something which interest only mortgages of the past haven’t been.

 

Many pensioner mortgages which rely on the property sale for repayment are essentially self-certification mortgages as they don’t carry out income checks for approval. For these mortgages the main relevant criteria are the age of the applicant which helps determine the expected term of the loan and the property valuation which helps determine the loan to value ratio.

 

For a full assessment of eligibility criteria with the range of interest only lifetime mortgages that Equity Release Supermarket have available, please call Freephone 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk.

 

Further information on the range of self cert interest only lifetime mortgages can be found on our Compare Equity Release Deals page.

Will Equity Release Providers Accept Repayments of Interest and/or Capital?

Sunday, January 13th, 2013

A common question that the over 55’s are asking these days is whether equity release schemes are flexible enough to accept repayments of interest and/or capital. With an increasing financially savvy population, particularly those approaching their retirement, this poses an interesting debate.

 

Typically, equity release plans have been associated with the roll-up lifetime mortgage principle, whereby NO monthly payments are necessary. For many retirees this is a daunting prospect given the fact that with the compounding of interest, the inheritance they would leave behind could be severely reduced, if not eliminated.

 

Equity release innovation needed

Equity release providers have therefore been posed themselves the question about how to develop this sector that has historically been devoured of innovation. This lends us back to the original scenario regarding the switched nature of the over 55’s, and how they are now demanding more equity release plans to meet their changing needs.

The baby boomer age group has historically grown up on a life of credit lines such as their residential mortgage, personal loans, hire purchase and credit/store cards. For them, the continuation of a mortgage in retirement is not a serious concern providing adequate pension income is received to fulfil their monthly commitments.

 

Some of these people will have ended up with a mortgage leading into retirement potentially affected by endowment shortfalls or pension fund under performance. Whichever way they have an outstanding mortgage at retirement, there needs to an option available that can address this common problem.

 

Halifax tried and failed

Certain equity release companies have researched this and taken note, particularly given the popularity that the now defunct Halifax Retirement Home Plan. Until August 2011, this Halifax equity release plan offered the over 60’s a mortgage based interest only scheme that would run for the rest of their lives. The void this product has left since being pulled from the market has been enormous and left an opportunity for another interest only provider to fill.

 

Equity release mortgages have now come into their own. Where once they were categorised as a vehicle to enhance lifestyle, they have now become an instrument of necessity, for many who wish to address their retirement shortcomings. These lifetime mortgages can, with product development, provide the ideal solution to an interest only mortgage situation that will only become an even greater issue in years to come.

 

Changes have started

Today the equity release market has opened up and a variety of new plans are now available. 2012 has seen new products come to market that are pushing the boundaries of how the equity release concept can be expanded and accommodate more people into the fold.

 

Therefore, to answer to the question – ‘Do Equity Release Providers Accept Repayments of Interest and/or Capital, the answer is categorically ‘YES’.

 

The next article – ‘Which Equity Release Companies Accept Payments of Interest &/or Capital will discuss the three current equity release providers that will accept repayment of interest and/or capital. Here we can look in greater depth at them: –

 

Hodge Lifetime – Lump Sum Lifetime Mortgage & the Flexible Lifetime Mortgage

Stonehaven – Interest Select Plans – Including Interest Select Lite, Plus, Select & Max

more2life – Interest Choice Plan

 

To discuss these products further call the team on 0800 678 5159 or click here to read the next article on this subject.

What Are My Options if I Still Have a Mortgage When I Reach Retirement Age?

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Retirement mortgages are becoming a rare breed. Nevertheless, with good research provided by an experienced equity release adviser, there are still such products available for the over 55’s. Products such as the Stonehaven Interest Select Plan are a good alternative to the now withdrawn Halifax Retirement Home Plan mortgage. If you have a pre-existing mortgage when you reach retirement age, there are certainly some options that are still available for you to consider.

 

Firstly, it is important to consider the changes in your income when you reach retirement. If your income during retirement still allows you to sustain the pre existing mortgage then the mortgage can be continued for a period. This will however be determined by the term of your existing mortgage and the attitude of your mortgagee. We have recently seen that since the FSA report into interest only mortgages, that residential mortgage lenders have revised their terms and attitude towards this sector of the mortgage market.

 

The repayment vehicle is where the issue has fallen down. Many people have taken interest only mortgages and for one reason or another never taken out the repayment vehicle that was meant to have provided the funds to repay the mortgage with at the end of the term. This has left a time bomb waiting to go off due to the sheer numbers of people with interest only mortgages now hitting their retirement years.

 

Affordability going into retirement is the one aspect of retirement planning most people do not look ahead for. Their income will fall as full time employment will usually cease and pensions as we all know have not performed as the quotes originally showed when personal pensions were originally take out.

 

Therefore, upon attaining retirement age, if you are unable to afford the mortgage, it is necessary to take the correct steps to remedy the situation. Your existing lender should allow you to switch to another interest only mortgage provider, should one be suitable to meet your requirements. To be able to do this, the loan-to-value ratio will be key as to what options will be available upon remortgaging outstanding. Now that the Halifax Retirement Home Plan mortgage has been taken out of service, what options actually remain to switch to?

 

By considering switching to an interest only lifetime mortgage can allow you to make monthly interest payments; the balance remains the same, which is repaid once the property is sold. The question to ask yourself is whether you require the mortgage to run for the rest of your life or to tie in with future plans, such as downsizing, or you only want the mortgage to run for a fixed number of years. Remember, selling your property and moving to a smaller property and paying off the balance is an option worth considering. The answer to these questions will determine the correct retirement solutions for you.

 

Equity Release Supermarket currently has two interest only lifetime mortgage plans available. Therefore, if your current lender does not provide this option, and you wish to remortgage then find an equity release adviser who can provide details. We can advise on both the Stonehaven range of interest select plans, or the recently launched more2life Interest Choice plan on 1st November 2012.

*UPDATE 1/8/21013 – Equity Release Supermarket has today obtained access to the new innovative Hodge Lifetime Retirement Mortgage Plan – for further details click here

However, always look at the options before pledging your future to an interest only lifetime mortgage product. You could be entitled to retirement benefits that can help you cope with the existing mortgage. For instance you could be entitled to council tax benefit or pension credit which could have an impact on your income & mortgage affordability. Certain organisations such as Shelter can provide mortgage interest advice and support to those who are eligible. It is worth exploring these options that can help with making payments.

 

There may be other residential mortgages that you can consider switching to. However, these companies such as Leeds Building Society may only provide a temporary reprieve due to the limited term permitted. Most lenders will usually want full & final repayment by a maximum age of 70-75.

 

It is therefore important to seek professional advice in order to make a well informed and well researched choice. Switching to an interest only lifetime mortgage such as the Stonehaven Interest Select Lite is one such option, wherein you make monthly interest payments for life and the balance on your mortgage remains the same. With Stonehaven interest rates now only starting from 5.99% monthly and thereafter fixed for the whole duration, for those that qualify this is an excellent & secure option available to people over age 55.

 

If you wish to cease making any payments towards the mortgage, maybe as you have no children or close relatives, then roll-up equity release schemes may also be a good option for you. A roll up equity release is where no monthly payments are required as instead the interest gets added to the balance. The equity release deals from some roll-up companies are excellent at the moment with the incentives to help with set up costs. For instance, the Aviva Flexible lifetime mortgage starts with rates as low as 5.57%, depending on personal requirements and this is coupled with free valuations and three cashback options.

 

However, if the thought of your inheritance disappearing before your eyes when you receive your annual roll-up lifetime mortgage statement arrives then its worth looking at companies like Stonehaven and more2life. You should know that interest rates are currently the lowest ever for Stonehaven in their six year history. From the number of interest only enquiries we now have, many people have also noticed and taken advantage of tying themselves into today’s lowest interest rates and fixing them & their futures up for the rest of their lives.

 

To discuss your equity release options at retirement call the equity Release Supermarket team on 0800 678 5159 today.

New Life Mortgages Buck the Trend & Launch a New 25 Year Interest Only Retirement Mortgage for the over 65’s

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

The tabloids are currently awash with articles proclaiming the death knell for the interest only mortgage. We only heard a few days ago the Nationwide are just one of the high street mortgage lenders in declaring themselves out of the interest only mortgage market.

 

But are these lenders missing a trick?

 

There is a potentially huge retirement mortgage market out there; a society that has grown up on a life of managing debt. They have paid off their mortgage, loans and credit cards during their lives which has created a culture of good financial management and has enabled them to build a significant volume of equity in their property.

 

Lenders need to understand more about the needs and demands of our retired population: –

  • Pensioners have fixed incomes which will usually be incremented each year
  • Most have a good credit history with track record to prove this
  • The older population tend to manage credit better & have not harnessed the ‘buy now, pay later’ mentality of today’s younger generation
  • They cannot be made redundant, nor lose income due to sickness or injury

 

We know in business, where one dares to tread another will be quick to follow and New Life Mortgages have done just that with their newly launched Over 65’s Retirement Mortgage.

 

Who are New Life Mortgages?

New Life Mortgages have been offering equity release schemes since 2003 and their innovative ideas were behind the first ever buy-to-let equity release plan and 2nd home lifetime mortgage schemes.

 

Having been assessing the market for their latest launch, New Life has evidenced the potential behind the vacuum left by the withdrawal of products such as the Halifax Retirement Home Plan in 2011.

 

The 65+ Retirement Mortgage

The newlife mortgages 65+ mortgage is aimed at homeowners with a minimum age of 65 who are looking to raise a tax free lump sum secured against their property and who wish to remain in situ for the foreseeable future. The important aspect of this plan is the term – there is no upper age limit and the applicants can take it out over a 25 year term, possibly longer with lender approval.

 

Available on an interest only or capital & repayment basis, the 65+ mortgage has an interest rate of 5.74% variable. Therefore, applying for a £50,000 mortgage on interest only basis would cost £239pm.

 

Early repayment charges (ERC’s) are favourable also which isn’t the norm on most equity release or interest only lifetime mortgage schemes. With a penalty of 3% in the first year only and none thereafter, the 65+ mortgage could certainly could suit those who are unable to sell their properties in the short term but still need cash funds.

 

How much will New Life Lend?

Standard mortgage lending criteria applies and affordability needs to be evidenced to determine how much can be borrowed. A common sense approach, and & possibly one that most lenders in the current environment could benefit from.

 

The formula for calculating maximum borrowings  are based on income of 4x the first income plus 2.5x the second, or simply 3.75x joint income, whichever provides the highest release for the client. Even still the loan must prove affordable when viewed in conjunction with other household expenditures. Usual credit checks are made and references requested if necessary.

 

The overall maximum amount that New Life Mortgages will lend is £350,000, although again this can be reviewed subject to individual criteria. One caveat though is that the maximum amount that can be borrowed is 50% of the property value & there must be £150,000 equity remaining after the mortgage is granted. Therefore, the over 65’s mortgage may not fit all criteria; however it is hopefully a move in the right direction for pensioner mortgages.

 

Finally

The 65+ mortgage is available on a purchase or remortgage basis. If remortgaging then New Life Mortgages are currently offering a FREE legal fees package on every application.

 

If you wish to check eligibility or request a quote on the New Life Mortgages 65+ Mortgage please call the Equity Release Supermarket team on 0800 678 5159.

 
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