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Posts Tagged ‘Downsizing’

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

 

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

 

Before Using Equity Release Club Together All Available Savings and Benefits

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

Experience has shown that equity release should always be considered a lifetime mortgage of last resort.

 

With the popularity of equity release schemes reaching an all time high, now is a good time to take stock of just why the equity release market has reached the level of consumer confidence it now commands.

 

There have been many highs & lows for an industry which has been much maligned. However, with increasingly flexible schemes & the lowest interest rates ever seen, we could be in for a ‘golden age’ for equity release.

 

It is therefore essential to seek the services of a qualified professional equity release adviser who is able to club together all their resources and ‘know how’ to complete a full fact find assessment of the clients situation.

 

This will include the ‘hard facts’ such as income, savings & assets etc which determine one’s current financial predicament. However, just as important are the ‘softer facts’ which mould a customer’s future viewpoint such as interest rates, property values and their potential inheritance.

 

Armed with this information, you should find an equity release adviser would assess whether a clients objectives could be met by alternative solutions, prior to an equity release recommendation being made.

 

Equity release alternatives  

When releasing equity from your home it involves a number of risks. Therefore, it is important that before your equity release adviser makes any recommendations, full consideration are given to whether there are any other options that could be explored.

 

Equity Release Supermarket will always discuss the following alternatives as a pre cursor to any equity release recommendation. Typically, these are:

 

  1. Apply for benefits – if your retirement income is below minimum government standards, then you may qualify for means tested benefits. These would include pension credit, savings credit and council tax benefit. For tax year 2013/14 the minimum income level to qualify for is £145.40pw for a single person and £222.05 for a couple. Therefore, if retirement incomes fall below these figures then you should be making enquiries at the DWP and your local authority. Remember that taking equity release from your property can affect means tested benefits, so always get professional advice.
  2. Obtain a grant for home improvements – again, if your income is below government guidelines then there are certain grants that are available upon enquiry. The standard grants can include loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, new boiler and by contacting your local Home Improvement Agency (HIA) they could provide assistance to help repair or even adapt your home. Therefore, these should always be explored before taking a home equity plan.
  3. Downsizing – i.e. moving to a smaller, less expensive property – probably the most common & cost effective solution, rather than taking equity from your property. Sometimes an emotive issue, as most retirees have lived in their current abode for many years, often with many memories attached. However, with the children moving on, your property may become too large to maintain. Therefore, by downsizing to a smaller property you can release equity that can then be used for the purposes you require & support you financially into your retirement.
  4. Using other assets to provide the funding required – taking equity release involves the expense of compound interest & an interest rate charged that would be higher than that received in most investments & savings accounts. Therefore, why take equity release, when you may have considerable savings you could use instead? Nevertheless, bear in mind some investments may be used for income purposes, so need to be left in situ & there should always be an emergency fund on hand should anything untoward occur & funds required immediately. Some people even feel the necessity for a large amount on deposit as they feel more secure knowing these funds are available. As an equity release adviser, we would explain the pros and cons of this course of action and maintain equilibrium for both parties.
  5. Ask for assistance from other family members – Equity Release Supermarket has experience of situations where brothers, sisters or even children have assisted their parents, rather than letting them take a release of equity form their property. This could be achieved by a family member taking a personal loan, remortgaging or even taking funds from their own personal savings. Lending to parents can have its drawbacks too, & we have seen occasions where this has created more family issues than it was meant to solve. However, with formal agreements in place if necessary, this can still be a good equity release alternative.
  6. Reduce your expenditure – with an increase in equity release lending being for debt consolidation purposes, many people have found the income transition from employment to retirement is a struggle. To maintain living standards in retirement, compared to employment is difficult for many & some never come to terms with this loss of income. By not cutting the cloth accordingly, debts amass on credit cards & loans & the downward spiral begins. By planning ahead before retirement & then analysing where cutbacks could occur once retirement starts, can have a significant influence on future retirement finances.
  7. Take in a lodger – one suggestion that always raises a smile, but in theory for many could help bring in extra income. The government ‘rent a room’ scheme allows home owners to let out a furnished room and receive upto £4,250pa in gross receipts without liability to income tax. For many however, sharing their main residence with other people may not sit too comfortably, however for individuals with room to spare it could create a good tax free income. Remember to check with your home insurance company & any lease that may exist on the property to ensure it does not create any exemptions.
  8. Consider other types of loans – credit card, personal loan, mortgage, HP – depending on affordability & the duration of the lump sum required, there are shorter term loan options available than equity release. A personal loan or strict use of a credit card and using some of the 0% credit offers available could prove to be extremely costs effective. The lifetime nature of equity release schemes means that if they are paid off early, there could be considerable early repayment charges levied by the provider.  Beware of high APR’s on loans and credit cards & bear in mind potential rate changes that could occur in the future should interest rates rise again.

 

As you can see before taking equity release club together all the ideas above and assess whether any of the aforementioned financial solutions could help yourself and/or beneficiaries over time. Equity Release Supermarket always suggest speaking to your children in any case to allay issues over inheritance.

 

To discuss how your equity release club of measures could help, contact the Equity Release Supermarket team of advisers on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 
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