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How Low Can Equity Release Interest Rates Go?

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

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

 

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

 

History of Equity Release Interest Rates

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

 

Time to Consider Interest Rate Diversification?

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

 

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

 

How Can Equity Release Lenders Reduce Interest Rates Further?

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

 

Catering to the New Silver Surfer Generation

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

New Aviva Flexible Lifetime Mortgage Interest Rate

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

 

Consider the following equity release scenario: –

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

So why have Aviva aggressively reduced their interest rates?

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

 

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

 

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

 

Further information on equity release –

 

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How Equity Release and Power of Attorney Can Work In Tandem

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Equity Release & Power of Attorney Case Study

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Equity Release Advice Process

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Summary

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

 

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

 

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

Now Aviva Accept Voluntary Repayments – Does this Change the Future of Equity Release?

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Aviva equity release voluntary partial repaymentsAviva equity release plans have proved the most popular form of lifetime mortgage scheme over the past 15 years.

The reason for their popularity has been down to a combination of brand name, simplicity and the fact that Aviva have regularly provided the lowest equity release interest rates.

 

However, during that time there has been a cloud hanging over their lifestyle flexi mortgage range and that is the issue over the maximum early repayment charge & the lack of a partial repayment facility. It’s always been a case of all, or nothing with regards to paying off Aviva’s equity release schemes – now we have a choice.

 

Aviva – time for change

In the past few weeks Aviva have bravely taken steps to alleviate these issues with some bold amendments to their lifetime mortgage range. In fact the impact these changes could make, will dramatically alter the way equity release schemes will be used & managed in the future. Other equity release companies will undoubtedly take note of these new features & it can only signal the start of further innovation in lifetime mortgage industry.

 

Aviva have introduced three new approaches to equity release: –

  • new voluntary repayment features can be used to actually clear the equity release loan over a set number of years
  • Aviva apply a different approach to enhanced equity release rates by actually reducing the interest rate on offer (see later article)
  • An early repayment charge exemption can be applied on first death for any new joint equity release lifetime mortgage (see later article)

 

Why Aviva needed to up the ante

Monday 28th April heralded the start of swinging changes to the Aviva Lifestyle Mortgage range. All Aviva’s new equity release applications from this date forth would have the ability for partial repayments to be made back to Aviva.

 

However, from our company perspective during 2013, Equity Release Supermarket had seen its share of applications move significantly towards the Hodge Flexible Lifetime mortgage range. This has been due to Hodge Lifetime’s two pronged attack on becoming the most popular & flexible lifetime mortgage product. Their innovative move towards being able to repay upto 10% of the original capital borrowed & the ability to downsize after 5 years & repay the loan with NO penalty has captured a large market share.

 

Aviva has now responded to the popularity of the Hodge Flexible Lifetime Mortgage plan by matching the 10% repayment option & additionally providing more beneficial features!

A new dawn for the equity release market has started.

 

How does the Aviva Voluntary partial repayment option work in practice?

From inception of the new Aviva equity release plan there is the inherent ability to make repayments of an ad-hoc nature back to Aviva. Aviva do have a cap of 10% of the original capital borrowed that can be repaid in any one year. Additionally, the earliest date that the first repayment can be made is 12 months from the commencement date of the plan. So some forward planning needs to be made & this ideally would have been made with the involvement of your equity release adviser at recommendation stage.

 

Consideration needs to be borne in mind that interest will be added to the plan in the meantime for calculation purposes. For example, if a sum of £40,000 equity was initially released at an interest rate of 5.68%, the balance before any repayment could be made would be £42,272.

 

This is where the first decisions on how much to pay back need to be made, and there are three options available:-

  1. If only a fixed budget is available, then a contribution towards the interest accruing could be made. Should this be less than the annual amount of interest charged, then the balance will still increase, albeit at a lower rate than would otherwise have been should nothing have been repaid.
  2. Should a level future balance be the choice moving forward, the sum of £2,272 could be annually sent back to Aviva, thus reverting the balance back to its original starting point of £40,000. This process could theoretically continue infinitum until the plan ends, which would be upon death of the last borrower or them moving into long term care. The balance would always flicker between these two figures, dependent at what point the repayments of £2,272 were made.
  3. If total repayment of the £40,000 is required, then a repayment strategy could be put in situ which would see this whole amount repaid over a set number of years. Dependent upon how much is initially borrowed & assuming maximum repayments of 10%pa can be maintained for the duration, Equity Release Supermarket can calculate at what point the plan can be fully repaid with NO penalty!

 

As an example Equity Release Supermarket have calculated someone borrowing £40,000, on the popular Aviva interest rate of 5.68%pa, & repaying the maximum £4,000pa could repay their Aviva lifetime mortgage shortly after the end of the 16th year.

Could this be classed as the first capital & interest equity release mortgage?

 

Please contact us on 0800 678 5159 for your personalised Aviva repayment calculation or click this link.

 

How do I physically make voluntary repayments back to Aviva?

A reminder to make repayments will begin with the receipt of your first annual Aviva equity release mortgage statement. This will evidence the amount of interest that has been added to your plan. It is at that point that the first repayment can be made back to Aviva. The question is how much to pay & this will be down to an individual’s personal preferences.

 

Aviva have cleverly side stepped the issue of MMR (Mortgage Market Review) here. Whereas companies such as Stonehaven & more2life have had to adapt their interest only lifetime mortgage process to the new MMR regime, Aviva due to their ad-hoc approach to repayments have avoided the MMR obstacle. Regular payments cannot be set up to repay the Aviva equity release schemes. Although Aviva do permit upto 4 payments each year, subject to a minimum amount of £500, the repayment process has to still be managed through their head office.

 

This repayment process would initially involve a phone call to the Aviva offices advising them of the fact a repayment is due to be sent to them. In reply they will provide a verbal form of quote which acts as confirmation. This can be confirmed in writing to you & optionally your adviser aswell so they are aware of your intentions.

 

The next step would be to send the money which can be in the form of a cheque, credit or debit card or a bank transfer for which Aviva will provide their details & reference number to track. They will not accept payments without this process having been accomplished, or contact being made beforehand. In fact they could return the funds should this process was not followed.

 

Important repayment points to note

As previously stated, repayments can only commence after 12 months from inception of the loan. However, Aviva have imposed further 12 month conditions on when repayments can be made following certain events: –

 

  1. Following withdrawal of cash funds from the drawdown facility of the flexible lifetime mortgage
  2. Should any additional borrowing be taken in the future

 

In both situations, no repayments can therefore be made for 12 months following these two events also.

 

Additionally, the same applies in reverse;

Should a customer have made repayments and has an available cash reserve under their drawdown plan, they cannot gain access to the reserve or additional borrowing until 12 months following their last repayment has been made.

Aviva may consider requests for a further release of equity in exceptional circumstances outside of that rule.

 

These rules are effectively to prevent to the to-ing & fro-ing of cash funds within the plan which would undoubtedly have made the Aviva equity release plans unmanageable and unprofitable.

 

Functional planning ideas for managing voluntary repayments & retaining a cash reserve

Although it’s still early days in the life of the new flexible repayment options, some ideas on managing the Aviva voluntary repayments have already sprung to mind.

 

Unlike Hodge Lifetime, Aviva do not impose a £10,000 lower capital threshold by which no further repayments can be made without penalty. In fact Aviva will allow the continued repayment of interest & capital with NO minimum amount down to zero, or even almost zero.

 

This could be beneficial for those who want to see the equity release balance to be reduced to a minimum level (e.g. £100 or less), yet still maintain the option of keeping their drawdown lifetime mortgage cash facility for the future. Bear in mind the small outstanding balance will accrue interest (albeit minimal), yet for many the comfort of retaining a cash reserve may have massive benefits should cash be required still in the future.

 

Summary

Aviva have responded well to the changing needs of the baby boomer generation as equity release moves into the next stage of its development. Retiree’s financial needs are becoming more complex with almost 75% of pensioners owning their own property, even carrying debt into retirement & living much longer than previous.

 

Aviva’s latest changes will therefore appeal to both advisers and consumers alike who are looking for more flexible loan terms on the long road ahead.

 

To request an Aviva Flexible Lifetime mortgage quote with voluntary repayments please click here.

Click the following link for your FREE Aviva capital repayment calculation.

 

To discuss any of the points raised in this article please contact Mark on 0800 783 9652 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

Equity Release – Important Questions Answered

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Before entering into for equity release, you need to be well versed with this financial product. Below are answers to some common questions that might make your task easier such as what is equity release.

 

 

What is equity release?

Equity release schemes help retired individuals to raise money from their property. Firstly, the term ‘equity’ describes the net value of your property. This is calculated by taking the current sale value of the property & deducting any mortgage or secured loans upon it.

The money raised is this equity tied up in the property. This money can either be withdrawn as a lump sum or in monthly instalments, the popular of which is primarily the former. A main feature of these equity release schemes is that you do not have to move out of your house and allows you to live your life in peace and financial comfort.

 

What are the uses of equity release plans?

The tax free lump sum released is yours to spend as you wish. The equity release companies do not place any restrictions on how the money is spent. You can make use of the released cash to supplement your retirement income and clear debts including mortgages, loans, credit cards, hire purchase & catalogues.

Apart from this, you could also use the money to go on holidays, redesign your home, purchase new car or increasingly an popular reason which is to help children invest in bricks & mortar or get on the property ladder for the first time.

 

What are the types of schemes available?

Equity release schemes broadly fall into two categories – lifetime mortgages and home reversion plans.

With lifetime mortgages, you get a secured loan on the property. You do not have to make any monthly interest payments. Instead, the interest gets rolled up and is paid off when the property is sold. This would be on death of the last survivor or moving into long term care. Therefore, you can continue to live in your home for the rest of your life or until the time you move into a retirement or care home. The main difference between the roll-up lifetime mortgage scheme & the home reversion is that with the former, the property remains 100% in the name of the property owner.

 

With home reversion plans, you can sell a part or all of your property to the lender in return for a lump sum. The home reversion providers will therefore take partial ownership of your property to the extent of the percentage sold.

A lifetime tenancy is created so you can live rent free in the property for the remainder of your life. This are great equity release solutions for those who wish to guarantee an inheritance for their children & beneficiaries.

 

Why is life expectancy important?

The type of scheme chosen by you will depend on how long you are likely to stay in your house. The older you are, the more tax free cash you can raise.

With a lifetime mortgage scheme, the longer you live the greater the final balance will be. This is due to the roll-up & compounding effect of the interest on a year on year basis. Therefore, there you cannot predict how much equity will be left at the end of the day as you do not know long the plan will roll-up for.

On the 0ther hand the advantage of home reversion schemes are that you can guarantee an inheritance for your beneficiaries. The reason for this is due to the fact that if a percentage of the property is sold, then the remaining percentage is yours to keep. Consequently, the estate will retain this percentage of the final sale value of the property & can guarantee an inheritance to pass down.

 

Not sure which scheme is best for your circumstances? Why not call the Equity Release Supermarket team on freephone 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Author

Mark Gregory CeMap CeRER

 

 
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