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Weigh Up the Alternatives First – Equity Release Isn’t Always the Answer to Funding Long Term Care Costs

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Long Term Care SolutionsWith long term care becoming increasingly topical, Equity Release Supermarket are encountering many enquiries where children & attorneys are considering equity release as a possible solution to solving this ageing dilemma. However, as a company we do not automatically assume that equity release is the only answer; there are more alternatives.

 

It is therefore always advisable to seek long term care advice from a specialist who can advise on all aspects of retirement planning to ensure all avenues are explored. This would include claiming any state benefits due, retirement annuities, care fees plans & equity release schemes.

 

The following live case study illustrates how one of my clients was in such a situation & was looking to release equity from their main residence. It explains how I researched & recommended the best long term care plan for their particular needs after exploring & discussing with them all possible solutions…

 

Case Background

I was contacted by a lady whose father – Peter was suffering from Alzheimers disease. Her mother Mary, who was in her 80’s, lived in the bungalow that they jointly owned, but because she suffered from mobility problems, she was unable to care for Peter. She had reluctantly made the difficult decision that Peter would be better cared for in a specialist Care Home.

 

Funding Long Term Care Shortfalls

At the time I spoke to Mary and her daughter, Peter had been living in a very nice Care Home for two years and was settled there. He was aged 86 and the fees for his care were £40,904 per year, the amount of his income that could be used to help fund this cost was £13,345 per year.

The shortfall between Peter’s income and the cost of his care therefore amounted to £27,559 and this shortfall was being paid from the capital that Peter and Mary had in their savings. At the time I spoke with the family, their savings totalled £135,000.

 

Although this amount would seem to be sufficient to fund the present shortfall in the cost of Peters care for nearly another five years, anything that Mary might need outside her normal day to day expenditure would also have to come out of it. This therefore left them in a financial dilemma that needed considering now, before the situation worsened & a long term care plan of action was to be put in place immediately.

 

The bungalow, for instance, badly needed decorating and Mary had not had a holiday for nearly five years. There was also the fact that Long Term Care Fees normally increase by between 3% and 5% per year. All of this needed to be met from this capital and Mary had started to worry that all their capital would be used up very soon, this worry was beginning to affect her health since she was not sleeping very well.

 

Is Equity Release the Solution?

Mary and her daughter had initially thought that taking out an equity release plan may be the only option open to them and this was when they contacted me for advice. They felt that by releasing equity from the property now, instead of using the savings would help preserve the capital into the future. However, after discussing the effect of roll-up interest & the fact that other retirement solutions existed they were prepared to sit down with me & conduct a thorough factfind exercise so I could fully analyse their situation.

 

Benefits of Seeking Independent Long Term Care Advice

Being a SOLLA accredited independent equity release adviser, I have the benefit of being FCA authorised to specialise in long term care, equity release plans, investments & annuities. Whereas many equity release advisers can only provide advice on equity release, whenever ANY advice is being given with regards to using it to solve long term care planning, it should always be referred to a long term care specialist such as myself who has be trained to provide guidance on such matters. We can consider ALL options available, not just equity release which may not always be the best solution.

 

The Long Term Care Solutions

After making an assessment of their situation I looked at the options that were available to them.

 

  1. The first option we looked at was to continue to meet the shortfall from the savings of £135,000. This meant that after annual increases in the cost of Peters care and looking after any needs that Mary might have, such as decorating and holidays, the capital would probably last for about another three or four years. After this period they would be reliant on Local Authority funding. Because the cost of the Care Home that Peter was in was more expensive than the Local Authority funding level, this may have meant Peter moving to a cheaper Care Home. Because he was settled and happy where he was, and the family was happy with the care he was receiving, they did not want this to happen.
  1. The second option was to look at investing the capital in order to obtain an income from the return. An optimistic return on the capital would be about 4% and this would provide an income of £5,400 per year. This would obviously not meet the shortfall of £27,559 and not entirely solve the long term care cost shortfall.
  1. The third option was to purchase a ‘Care Fees Plan’, otherwise known as an Immediate Needs Annuity. After obtaining the necessary medical reports from Peters Care Home and his GP, we received illustrations of the cost of these plans from the relevant providers. By investing a capital sum with the annuity provider, they would then provide a lifetime income payable to either the planholder or care home to cover care fees due.

 

The results were very pleasing. For a lump sum premium of £106,000 a Care Fees Plan could be purchased that would provide Peter with an income of £27,599 per annum for the rest of his life. The income would also rise by 5% each year in order to help cover any increases in the cost of his care. Instead of the income being paid to Peter so his Attorney could then pay his Long Term Care Fees, it was arranged to be paid directly to the Care Home. Arranged in this way, it gave the added bonus that the income would be paid tax free, thereby going further towards meeting the care costs payable.

 

The outcome of funding the cost of Peters care in this way meant that:

  • The cost of Peters care would be met for the rest of his life, regardless of how long that was.
  • The income of £27,599 would increase by 5% compound each year.
  • £29,000 of their capital had been protected for Marys benefit.
  • It had safeguarded the family home to be passed to their daughter.
  • The family had been provided with peace of mind.
  • Equity release is still an option if necessary in the future should circumstances dictate.

 

If you wish to discuss any aspects of this case study or need long term care advice from a SOLLA accredited adviser, please either email me – peter@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk or telephone 07828 179707. I look forward to hearing from you.

Practical Applications of the Pure Retirement Drawdown Plan

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Pure Retirement Drawdown PlanPure Retirement recently became the latest equity release provider to enter the lifetime mortgage market.  Launched in January 2014, it signalled the re-emerging confidence & growing popularity in the equity release market.

 

However, it makes no sense for a new lender to enter the market without finding a niche for itself. So, over the past few months Equity Release Supermarket advisers have encountered practical experience of where the Pure Drawdown Plan has fitted in providing best advice scenarios. Here we help explain where we feel the Pure Retirement Plan wins, in an already competitive equity release marketplace.

 

First, the Pure Drawdown Plan in Detail

Before we enter the wheres & wherefores of how the Pure Plan fits in with equity release recommendations, let’s look at the Pure Retirement plan facts

 

The Pure Retirement Drawdown Plan is the first offering from the new lender formed by funding assistance from equity release brokerage – Age Partnership. This follows the similar relationship that exists between more2life & Key Retirement Solutions and represents a growing trend where brokers have become equity release providers. This similarity is also evidenced from where the funding source is derived, in that Pure Retirement relies also on the same annuity backed insurer to give it the ability to fund its lending – Partnership Assurance.

 

The Pure Drawdown plan is a lifetime mortgage that starts later in life than most equity release schemes with a minimum age at commencement of 70. It’s aimed towards the higher end of the loan-to-value ratios without any medical underwriting, which the enhanced lifetime mortgage plans have the advantage of.

 

The starting percentage is 36% of the property value at age 70, which compares favourably with other high LTV products. Albeits not the highest maximum equity release plan out there, it has a neat trick up its sleeve with how it can still compete with these maximum lifetime mortgage plans. Details of how are explained later in this article.

 

As a member of the Equity Release Council, the Pure Drawdown Plan offers a free no-negative equity guarantee and 100% ownership of the home. Portability enables you to still move house once the plan has been set in force and the interest rate is fixed for life, launched at a reasonably competitive 6.74% monthly rate (7.1% representative APR).

 

The minimum loan is higher than most at £25,000, which is where Pure Retirement’s market lies and is available in England, Scotland & Wales.

 

This is a roll-up lifetime mortgage plan with the option of a cash reserve facility. Therefore, Pure Retirement will calculate the maximum release possible, from which an initial amount can be withdrawn. Any funds untaken, remain in a cash reserve held by Pure Retirement at no cost until needed in the future. Should it later be necessary to access these funds, they can be drawndown in minimum amounts of £5,000 with no further charges.

 

Where Pure Retirement Lifetime Mortgage Strengths Lie

As an independent equity release adviser, one of the most common reasons for client objection lies in the costs of implementing an equity release scheme. Here is where the Pure Drawdown Plan wins – set up costs!

Only one equity release company has previously offered a scheme whereby the standard terms dictate a cost effective route to market for any client taking out a lifetime mortgage, & that’s Partnership’s Enhanced Lifetime Mortgage. Some lenders will temporarily create pockets of time whereby a cashback exists or a reduced interest rate for a limited period, but these come & go.

 

However, Pure have created these features as a permanent fixture & all credit to them in seeing this gap in the market and understanding what the consumer requires. Afterall, many applicants want a release of equity to help them financially as they have limited funds in the first place. By asking them for more money up front, it makes the process more difficult for them to get the whole application underway. Pure Retirement alleviate these areas, both pre & post application stages, let me explain how and why.

 

Pure’s Set up Costs

Pure Retirement provide a two tier set up cost operation; one for equity release loans between £25,000 & £44,999, the other based on loans in excess of £45,000.

All equity release schemes will normally incur set up fees in four main areas – Valuation, application, solicitor & adviser charges.

 

Pure approach this differently in the sense they aim to cover the majority of costs; the more one borrows, the greater the help provided. For loans over £45,000 the cost is enhanced furthermore by them providing: –

 

  1. FREE valuation
  2. NO application fee
  3. Contribution of £600 towards legal costs
  4. Contribution of £500 towards the advice fee

 

Therefore, dependent upon how much the advice fee being charged is, which in the case of Equity Release Supermarket its £895; the net advice fee cost would only be £395. Bearing in mind we can source an ERSA equity release solicitor, for a reasonable £495 + VAT & disbursements (including home visit) the £600 contribution from Pure Retirement should cover this on a standard freehold property. This effectively means to implement a Pure Drawdown Plan with Equity Release Supermarket would only cost approximately £395!

 

Where Does the Pure Retirement Plan Offer Clients Best Advice?

As previously stated, Pure Retirement Drawdown Plan has been targeted to meet those clients looking towards a maximum equity release in order to assist them with their retirement needs.

A recent example of how the Pure Drawdown Plan can still offer a client a greater net amount, even though the maximum release is lower than a competitor, can be illustrated by a case I recently encountered: –

 

CASE STUDY

Pam, aged 79 was looking to move property & required a lifetime mortgage to help her with the purchase. She was in good health & needed the maximum release possible to not only help with the purchase but also the moving costs & legal fees.

The purchase price for the 3 bedroom flat in Cornwall is £140,000.

 

Pamela requires the maximum release possible which following extensive research would point towards the Just Retirement Lump Sum Plus plan which would release £64,400 at an annual interest rate of 6.75%. This comes with a free valuation, £600 application fee, legal costs & advice fee.

 

Looking further down our research table identifies the Pure Drawdown Plan with a 6.74% monthly interest rate. However, the maximum release Pure would offer would be a lower amount of £63,000. But upon delving deeper into this product & by analysing the charging structure it shows that the actual Pure Retirement net release could be higher.

 

Fee Type /Provider

Valuation

Application

Legals

Advice

Legal Contribution

Advice Contribution

Net Costs

       Just         Retirement

FREE

£600

£600

£895

£0

£0

£2095

Pure Retirement

FREE

£0

£600

£895

£600

£500

£395

 

Evidently, the Pure Retirement plan has £1700 reduced set up costs, compared to the Just Retirement plan. The next part of this calculation is then offsetting this £1700 advantage that Pure Retirement has against the £1400 extra that Just Retirement can release as their maximum.

 

The final result therefore shows that Pure Retirement will have a greater net release to Pam of £300 and therefore proceeds with the recommendation as the £300 would be more advantageous in her pocket.

The message therefore is never look at the top line maximum amount, but always to consider any incentives that may help improve the net offering.

 

Existing Equity Release Customers Looking for Additional Funds

Other areas where Equity Release Supermarket customers have already benefitted from the new Pure Retirement lifetime mortgage is under two scenarios: –

 

  1. Where they have an existing equity release plan & need further funds.
  2. If looking to obtain a lower interest rate, yet no lender can provide sufficient funds to enable the equity release remortgage

 

Following the routine check to see if any additional borrowings are available with their existing lender, it’s then our duty to research the whole of the market to see if any other equity release providers could assist.

 

One of the issues against switching equity release schemes is usually the set up costs that prohibit the transfer. Under the two scenarios, in the first the charges could swallow up any of the spare cash being targeted, and in the 2nd scenario the set up costs make any transfer non-profitable as these costs offset any future savings in interest.

 

Its therefore the case that set up costs can prevent future maneuverability with any home equity scheme.

 

This is where the Pure Retirement Drawdown Plan can come into its own with its lower set up costs. Under both scenarios, Pure’s reduced set up costs will help with the switching of equity release schemes. Under the 1st scenario it will lead to more funds being available to withdraw & secondly in obtaining a lower interest rate its helps bring forward the break-even point.

 

Summary

Set up costs are an important aspect in the consideration of accepting any equity release recommendation. However, your adviser should consider the whole picture and features necessary in your meeting your requirements. This is why any equity release adviser should be experienced, qualified and importantly independent too.

 

If you feel that the Pure Drawdown Plan could be of benefit to you, please contact Mark Gregory on 0800 783 9652 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk.

 

 

Further Information

 Request Pure Drawdown Quote | Pure Product Specs | How Much Can I Borrow? | Contact Us

How Equity Release Schemes Can Help Generate Extra Income in Retirement

Monday, March 10th, 2014

How equity release can provide extra income in retirementThroughout our working lives, retirement always seemed a distant destination. Plans to ensure that financial security is bestowed upon us are often postponed, while more pressing needs are fulfilled. Yes, the date to start a pension or retirement planning was always the proverbial ‘tomorrow’.

 

Unless you were fortunate enough to become a member of an employer’s final salary scheme, which even today are becoming a rarity, then it’s likely that the penny has dropped and there will ultimately be a reduction in income, once state pension age is reached.

 

However, all is not lost & although many people haven’t necessarily funded a pension or savings contract for their retirement, they may have inadvertently been savings via their biggest asset…their property!

 

Should any of these comments strike a chord, then please read on. Using my wealth of financial services & the last 14 equity release experience, I want to explain how your property can become your pension & take you down the road of enhancing your pension in retirement.

 

The inevitable expense of retirement…

First let’s start by establishing what the perception of retirement is & the future expenditures that maybe incurred during its reign.

These could encompass simple lifestyle costs such as any of the following: –

 

  • A new car?
  • Regular holidays?
  • Home improvements?
  • A caravan or motorhome?
  • More leisure time for golf or bowls?
  • Enjoy days out?

 

However, for many the reality of meeting these expenditures becomes a pipe dream as once retired, they could find their income severely reduced. In fact in some cases, pensioners have seen a reduction of two thirds of the income that they enjoyed whilst working. The danger of this becomes apparent. From experience many retirees DO NOT curb spending habits to realign their expenditures following a reduction in income.

 

This situation has led to a dramatic increase in post-retirement debt counselling, with many building significant credit card debt, which then spirals out of control. During times of employment debt can usually be easier to manage, with the ability to repay using extra hours, bonuses, overtime or even a 2nd job. These options are somewhat reduced for the silver surfer generation, albeit more retirees are considering working, & actually are filling vacancies that once were not considered unnecessary in retirement.

 

So what are the options, should the over 55’s find themselves with an income shortfall & need advice on their retirement solutions?

 

Well as stated earlier, your home may have become an extremely valuable asset with potential escalation its value over the decades. So let’s look at how your house could become your pension and provide a level of financial security.

 

Home equity plans have been around many years, but have never been as popular as they are today, so here I attempt to explain the pros and cons of equity release schemes.

 

Why do people take out an equity release plan?

More and more people are turning to equity release to fund home improvements, pay off debts and to enjoy holidays, but the underlying reason for this is that their income has reduced so much since they retired, they’re no longer able to save for larger purchases.

 

Similarly, many retirees are spending their tax free cash from their pensions on larger purchases, such as a new car and conservatory, but are finding that their disposable income has reduced to the extent that there’s hardly anything left each month having paid their household bills and bought their groceries etc.

 

We’ve all seen in the news that pensions aren’t producing the expected level of income that people hoped for: some final salary pension schemes have closed; annuity rates are historically lower as life expectancy improves; interest rates on savings have flat lined since the economic downturn, with even the highest instant access cash ISA rate only offers 3.02% variable (Newcastle Building Society).

 

Explore potential sources of additional income

Assuming that you’ve spent your lifetime savings, don’t wish to move or downsize yet, and have exhausted all other alternatives upon discussion with an equity release specialist like Equity Release Supermarket, there’s a number of other alternatives for you to consider:

 

  • The first step should be to check if additional income could be sourced from elsewhere such as local government? Always check whether any means tested state benefits or such as pension credit, or local authority benefits now labelled ‘Council Tax Reduction’ may be available. Please see my recent article on this – ‘Can an Equity Release Adviser Provide Advice on Means Tested State Benefits?

 

  • Finally, if you’ve got any existing debts, these could be refinanced & consolidated, potentially leaving you with one lower monthly payment.  These savings can then be used towards providing extra income in retirement.

 

What’s the best way to get an income from equity release?

No current lifetime mortgage providers actually offer a monthly income equity release plan. In fact only one provider ever has; Northern Rock offered an income producing lifetime mortgage. This was pulled once Northern Rock Equity Release (now Papilio UK) was closed to new business during the credit crunch. Even during its lifetime, the Northern Rock Cash-Plus plans were fairly inflexible in the sense that once income was arranged, it was fixed for life and could not be amended.

 

Nowadays, the majority of equity release applicants would rather have the flexibility of deciding when the take the tax-free cash, not to be dictated to with a fixed income for life. The most prudent & popular way is to use a drawdown equity release scheme. This is available from most lifetime mortgage providers and I can carefully assess which scheme is most suitable for you. By accepting a cash reserve facility from the equity release company, the applicant can then decide how much of this reserve facility they need to spend initially. The remaining balance untaken, is then held by the lender until such time the customer requires further cash drawdown. The beauty of the drawdown lifetime mortgage is that NO interest is charged whilst monies are left with the provider.

 

Let’s look at a couple that I met recently and witness how a drawdown equity release scheme works in practice:-

 

Case Study – ‘asset rich, income poor’

Jim & Mary, both aged 70, own a property worth £250,000 and are both retired. They manage reasonably well from their pension income, but this only pays for their normal day to living expenditure and they’re unable to afford the small luxuries in retirement that they’d always dreamed of. They’d like an extra income each year to pay for regular meals out, a cruise each year plus they like exploring National Trust type properties and country villages.

 

The solution: They’re able to release the minimum loan of £15,000 which will easily cover their first 2 years of expenditure as they also need to use £5,000 for a new bathroom.  In order to supplement their on-going income needs they’d like £4,000 ‘spending money’ each year. With the versatility of the Hodge Flexible Lifetime Mortgage Plan, they’re able to achieve this as Hodge would set up a reserve of £55,000 that can be accessed at any time, with a minimum withdrawal amount of £1,000. These extra withdrawals attract NO further charges.

Jim described this as ‘like having a bank account with £55,000 in it.’ The benefits to Jim & Mary are that none of this £55,000 reserve facility attracts any interest until it’s actually taken. They plan to withdraw around £4,000 a year for approx. 10 years, whilst they’re fit and healthy to enjoy it. The Hodge Lifetime Flexible Mortgage Plan comes with a free valuation offer currently.

 

 

When equity release should NOT be used to create an income!

Some equity release customers in the past have been advised to release the maximum lump sum from their property and reinvest into an investment product. Problems have arisen, as the income has reduced and the investment has often dropped in value, while interest on the equity release has rolled up and provided poor value for money.

 

Similarly, some customers previously released a lump sum to buy an annuity but it has proved difficult to get a good income from a relatively small lump sum. It normally takes considerable time to benefit from a pension annuity, but interest will have been charged on the full amount of equity that you originally released from your home.

 

Other customers have taken the maximum lump sum from their home and invested into deposit accounts or investment bonds, but have been dismayed with plummeting interest rates. With interest rates on equity release loans currently averaging over 6%, yet the best savings rates currently only 3%, this obviously represents poor value for money & certainly not best advice.

 

These are NOT ways that equity release mortgages should be utilised and why the drawdown lifetime mortgage scheme is the correct vehicle to use.

 

What are the main advantages of a drawdown scheme versus a maximum lump sum plan? 

  • Interest isn’t charged on the reserve amount, until you decide to take it
  • You can withdraw money from the reserve at any time
  • No further charges for each withdrawal made (except New Life & more2life)
  • Limiting your savings in the bank, can help eligibility for means tested benefits
  • The less money you borrow, the less interest your beneficiaries will need to repay when the plan ends

 

How much can I release under a Drawdown equity release scheme?

The amount depends on a number of factors, including property value, age of the youngest applicant and property type. With recent innovations in equity release schemes there is now an enhanced drawdown lifetime mortgage plan which can offer a greater cash reserve facility for those with a history of poor health, yet requiring the maximum cash facility available.

 

Equity Release Supermarket’s free equity release calculator found here our website can certainly assist in helping to ascertain the maximum equity release possible. This will provide a guideline which can then be qualified further by myself dependent upon your financial requirements, both now & in the future.

 

Therefore, please contact myself, Mark Rumney for your personalised illustration. Your request can be discussed over the telephone & once I have identified your requirements & checked eligibility. Following that, I can conveniently post or email out the best recommended scheme for your needs.

 

To follow up any aspects of this article, please contact me via my mobile 07957 974826 or email markrumney@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

Can I Move Home with Equity Release?

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Moving Home With Equity ReleaseOne of the most common questions we get asked as equity release advisers is whether a lifetime mortgage is ‘flexible’ enough to meet any future change in circumstances?

 

Having reached retirement, experience has taught us all that life can be full of surprises and quite rightly this question is always high on the agenda.

 

This article has been written using my 10 years equity release experience & how I have helped guide my clients towards their ultimate goals, but at the same time alleviating any inhibitions surrounding equity release and moving home in the future.

 

The most common apprehensions regarding flexibility and moving or buying a new home can be summarised as follows:

  1. Can I move home if I have already taken out an equity release plan?
  2. Can I use equity release to purchase a new property
  3. How much can I raise on a new home using maximum equity release schemes?
  4. Can I transfer my existing equity release scheme to a new home?
  5. Can I still take out equity release if I downsize?
  6. If moving house, is it worthwhile transferring, or taking out a new plan?

 

So how does an equity release adviser dispel the fears and help their clients overcome the concerns that a release of equity mustn’t feel like a noose around their neck?

 

Considerations on Moving Home from an Equity Release Advisers Point of View

When we consider the question of a possible future house move, we can divide this into three very different scenarios; each one deserving separate consideration in its own right: –

  1. The first equity release scenario captures the proposition of using a lifetime mortgage, or home reversion plan to help fund the purchase of a new house
  2. The 2nd situation analyses the advice & legal process required when purchasing or moving home, utilising an existing equity release plan.
  3. Lastly, we explain the advisers perspective on what options are  available to a client with their existing equity release mortgage, upon moving home

 

Scenario 1 – Can I use Equity Release to help fund a house purchase?

An increasing number of enquiries seem to be coming in from people who are looking to move home, and this can be for various reasons. Some are looking to move nearer to their family for support, others are looking to downsize to repay loans and mortgages. Still others simply want to buy that bungalow they had always dreamed of for when they retired.

 

In the majority of cases, the best way to use equity release schemes to help fund a house purchase is to transact them simultaneously. This means involving an equity release application to be used as part of the legal process to buy. Consider this theory as exactly the same principle as using a conventional residential mortgage to help buy a new property.

 

In essence, by taking equity release at the same time as house purchase will save money by not duplicating the legal work, should a release of equity be needed at a later date. The rationale is that only one set of legals are required should equity release & the purchase be transacted simultaneously. However, if a release of equity is taken post purchase, then two set of legal costs are incurred; at the time of the house purchase, but then again later when equity release is done in isolation.

 

The rules are fairly straightforward, whether you use a lifetime mortgage or a home reversion plan for this purpose. A given percentage of the value of the proposed purchase property would be made available, depending on the age of the youngest applicant, and some or this entire figure would be sent to the conveyancer on the day of purchase to enable completion to take place.

 

Case Study:

Mr & Mrs Townley are aged 65 and looking to buy a property nearer to their daughter at a cost of £200,000. Their own home has been sold for £180,000 and, bearing in mind the additional costs involved, they feel they would need a further £30,000 to complete the purchase.

Following research, their lifetime mortgage adviser has recommended the Aviva Lifestyle Flexible Option where they could release upto 25% of the value of their new property. This potentially could provide them with a maximum release of £50,000.

They decided that they only want £30,000 of this for now but, as they don’t know what the future may hold, they ask for a cash reserve facility to be set up so that they could access the other £20,000 in the future, just in case they need it later.

 

Scenario 2 – Can I move home AFTER releasing equity on my home?

This is a different question altogether, but is definitely another one that comes up most of the time. Most people want to know before they enter into an equity release agreement, what would happen if they moved home in the future? This could be downsizing when one partner is left on their own, or moving into sheltered accommodation, if health dictates it becomes necessary.

 

First of all it is important to acknowledge that any lender that is a member of the Equity Release Council (which recently replaced SHIP) will allow the transfer of an equity release plan to a new, suitable property. Portability is an important facet of all equity release schemes.

 

Important considerations for anyone releasing equity include what they think MAY happen, or which is MOST LIKELY, as none of us know what’s around the corner.

 

If downsizing is the most likely outcome, then it should be very easy to find a lender that will allow this with the facility to move the equity release plan at the same time. A valuation would be carried out on the new property and the maximum configured equity release would be calculated. Having access to a lifetime mortgage calculator would be an advantage.

 

If the amount currently owed, is in excess of the maximum amount available for release on the new property, then the excess would need to be repaid from the profit made through selling and buying the cheaper property.

Of course some people want to have the flexibility of repaying the loan in full if they downsize later on and this is where some care is needed from outset to ensure this is possible.

 

As lenders become more attuned to what is important to equity release customers we are seeing some innovative thinking and I for one hope that this is a trend that will continue to grow over the coming years.

 

Scenario 3 – What should I do with an existing equity release if I want to downsize or purchase new?

This scenario is a continuation of the previous section, albeit taking into account in greater detail the options available & what should be done with an old equity release plan. It would be amiss of any adviser to automatically assume it would be in the client’s best interest to port an old lifetime mortgage or home reversion plan to the new property.

 

This is a key opportunity for an overall review of the older plan to establish its competitiveness in today’s equity release environment. From my experience of working at Norwich Union Equity Release (latterly Aviva), I am aware of older legacy equity release plans that in today’s world are outdated and uncompetitive.

 

My Experience of Norwich Union’s Legacy Equity Release Plans

The forerunner of all of Aviva’s equity release plans was called the Capital Access Plan. The Norwich Union Capital Access Plan had an interest rate, not charged against the balance, but calculated against the property value escalating over time. People with these plans who have seen a large increase in property value, will also had seen a proportionate increase in their equity release balance.

 

Another legacy plan which is no longer available is the Norwich Union Index-Linked Cash Release Plan. This a scheme which offered a maximum equity release lump sum from age 55, but with an interest rate linked to Retail Price Index (RPI). This Index Linked Cash Release Plan had a minimum interest rate of 4.89%, rising to a maximum rate of 10.14%. The calculated rate was dependent upon on the annual change in RPI which was then added to the minimum rate of 4.89%. Hence, this scheme did not provide as much certainty as today’s lifetime mortgage fixed rates.

 

From thereon in, Norwich Union or Aviva Lifetime Mortgage schemes had interest rates over 8%pa and potential early repayment charges of 100% of the original balance borrowed. Its schemes such as these that need assessing as to whether they should continue, or if favourable, could be repaid upon sale & a new plan taken upon simultaneous purchase of the new property. With rates today from Aviva as low as 5.68% annual, it could make sound financial sense to consider a new scheme which could save many £1,000’s over time by switching.

 

Free Initial Consultation

It is therefore essential for an experienced independent equity release adviser to undertake a full review of the entire situation & provide an impartial recommendation as to what is best advice moving forward. This will involve requesting an upto redemption statement from the existing lender, analysing the existing scheme & importantly assessing all the features including potential early repayment charges.

 

Equity Release schemes that were taken out some time ago are usually not as competitive, or flexible as plans around today, given the period of low interest rates incumbent over the last 2-3 years.

 

I would advise ANYONE thinking of moving to take advice as it may well be cheaper to change lender than staying with your current one and transferring your plan to the new property. The only way of finding this out is to take advice from an Independent Equity Release Adviser that is able to research the WHOLE of the market. By conducting a switch plans analysis, Equity Release Supermarket can address whether it would be worthwhile, or not, to switch equity release plans when moving home.

 

 

Examples of lenders already attuned to the option of downsizing – Hodge Lifetime

At the moment if anyone is thinking of downsizing in the future and repaying their equity release plan in full, then serious consideration should be given to a new plan such as the Hodge Lifetime Flexible Mortgage Plan.

 

This plan allows the borrower to repay the whole amount WITHOUT PENALTY if they decide to move home & downsize, as long as this is at least 5 years after inception of the plan.

 

Alongside this downsizing protection option is the fact that, if something unforeseen should happen and you need to move and repay during the first 5 years then the Hodge Lifetime penalty for doing so would be capped at 5% of the initial release in year 1, 4% in year 2, 3% in year 3, 2% in year 4 and then 1% in year 5. Significantly, the Hodge Lifetime penalty is more favourable than many of the gilt linked product related early repayment charges.

 

I believe this gives an added degree of flexibility for equity release consumers, and I hope it’s an indication that lenders are changing the way they change tact & begin providing greater flexibility as the need to move home in the future increases.

 

The fact remains that it is possible to move home and it’s imperative that you get the right advice when considering equity release initially AND when thinking of a house move as well.

 

Summary

It is probably one of the most important decisions you will make financially, as the decision you make now will not only impact on your future, but also your children & grandchildren’s future.

 

These are the reasons why we at Equity Release Supermarket always offer a free, no obligation, initial consultation which can be in the comfort of your own home or over the telephone, whichever is preferable.

This initial consultation gives us the chance to ask our clients about their objectives as well as their future plans, so that we can tailor any Equity Release scheme we recommend to each individual set of circumstances.

 

For your FREE, NO OBLIGATION, initial consultation (whether it’s your first time or if you want to review your current scheme) please call Mark on 07966 889597 or e-mail mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

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 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.

FREE Valuation Offer With Hodge Lifetime

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

With growing interest in the Hodge Lifetime Flexible Mortgage, Equity Release Supermarket are pleased to announce a new FREE valuation deal for this market leading equity release product.

 

For all new applications from 26th February 2013, Equity Release Supermarket can offer customers taking out a new Hodge Lifetime Mortgage plan a FREE valuation on properties worth upto £350,000. For properties above the £350,000 limit will just need to cover the differential valuation cost.

Hodge Lifetime Free Valuation offer

 

Hodge Lifetime  has taken the lifetime mortgage market by storm with its forward thinking products catering for the changing needs of the over 60’s retired population.

 

The introduction of the Flexible Lifetime Mortgage Plan in 2012, saw two new features arrive that had never set foot in an industry previously devoured of new ideas & future planning tools.

 

Details of these features are as follows: –

 

  1. Downsizing Protection Option – allows anyone holding a Hodge Lifetime Plan to repay their lifetime mortgage with NO early repayment charges, providing they move house & downsize at the same time after 5 years of starting the plan. Also favourably for anyone that downsizes WITHIN 5 years –  Hodge Lifetime will only charge a penalty on a decreasing basis of 5%,4%,3%,2% & 1% over the first 5 years of the plan term. These rates are the best the equity release industry has to offer currently & helps those who have no intentions of moving now, but may do so in the future for various reasons.
  2. Flexible Repayment Option – first came the roll-up lifetime mortgage, then interest only lifetime mortgages where the interest could be repaid – now the Hodge Lifetime Flexible repayment option. Hodge now offer the facility to repay upto 10% of the original capital borrowed each year with NO penalty. Therefore, if you’re looking to cap the build up of interest with ad-hoc repayments, or even wish to reduce the equity release mortgage balance, then you can now do so. The repayments can be made anytime you like after the initial period of 12 months from the start date of the plan.

 

Hodge now have a range of lifetime mortgage plans that can be taken on a single lump sum or drawdown equity release basis with flexibility being key to their portfolio of products. With interest rates starting from 5.74% monthly (6.20% APR) and fixed for life, the present time is the best time the equity release market has ever seen for interest rates.

 

If you are looking for an equity release scheme whereby you can afford to make repayments of capital &/or interest in order to protect you children’s inheritance, then the Hodge Flexible Lifetime Mortgage scheme should be of interest.

 

For further information or to request a Hodge quotation, please visit our dedicated Hodge Lifetime deals page by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can speak to one of our Hodge specialists at Equity Release Supermarket by calling our equity release advice line on 0800 678 5159.

 

Why Are You Still With Papilio UK Equity Release?

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Are you one of those lifetime mortgage borrowers who were originally with Northern Rock but, since March 2012, have seen the ownership of your mortgage transferred to Papilio UK Equity Release Mortgages Ltd, a subsidiary of J P Morgan?

 

If so, do you realise that you are probably paying interest at more than 1.3% higher than rates charged by some other lifetime mortgage lenders? And Papilio UK Equity Release no longer allows you to take further loans from the equity in your home, an option Northern Rock originally considered!

 

If so, you could make considerable savings by the simple process of remortgaging to another regulated lifetime mortgage lender. With equity release schemes now in the prime of their life, now has never been a better time anyway to consider an equity release remortgage.

 

For example, assuming you remortgaged an equity release balance of £50,000 onto a fixed rate of 5.60% instead of the 6.99% currently charged by Papilio UK, after 10 years you could save yourselves, and your beneficiaries approximately £12,000 in interest charges.

 

Competitiveness & Flexibility of New Plans

Depending upon the value of your home, many new lenders will allow you access to further loans either immediately, or by providing a cash reserve to draw upon at your discretion. Drawdown lifetime mortgages now account for the majority of equity release schemes taken out and provide best advice for those retirees that only need a smaller upfront lump sum, but may require additional cash in the future.

 

Modern day lifetime mortgage schemes have surpassed the rigid plans of old. Since Northern Rock (aka Papilio Equity Release) withdrew providing equity release mortgages the market has seen diversification unseen before. With the advent of interest only lifetime mortgage schemes, we have experience of people actually switching from old roll-up lifetime mortgage plans. Where they feel the balance has reached a point whereby they no longer want it to increase any further, they can switch to an interest only lifetime mortgage. This option may never have been available in the past.

 

A free initial comparison offer

Should you have a Papilio UK equity release mortgage then you will undoubtedly be paying over the odds on your interest rate. Many people contact us who hold an existing Northern Rock mortgage and ask for the Papilio UK equity release mortgages ltd telephone number to contact them.  Equity Release Supermarket has advisers that are experienced in analysing whether it would be in one’s interest to switch equity release schemes.

 

As acknowledged specialists, Equity Release Supermarket has given objective advice to increasing numbers of applicants seeking to remortgage from Papilio UK and we have guided them painlessly through the remortgage process.

The switch analysis will take into account the set up costs of the proposed new equity release mortgage. These costs can be lower than anticipated, especially as J P Morgan/Papilio equity release have indicated in the past that they will waive early repayment charges.

 

Allied to the current practice of many lenders offering free valuations and paying “cashbacks” of upto £1000, then equity release companies such as Aviva can offer a new safe haven for your mortgage. By providing a smooth transition in the equity release application process you can seamlessly transfer you Papilio (Northern Rock) equity release plan to a more competitive rate benefitting yourself & beneficiaries in the long run. Aviva are currently offering rates to Equity Release Supermarket customers starting at 5.57% annual.

 

If you want to join those who have successfully made the transition from Papilio UK then please do contact Mike Vicary of Equity Release Supermarket, on 07795 195302 for a free initial consultation.

 

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.

When Equity Release is NOT Right For You!

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

This article looks at why a release of equity from your home may NOT be in your best interests, after all Equity Release Supermarket is an impartial website and we only want what is best for our customers. Whether that is to proceed, delay and consider the alternatives or to dismiss outright, we will always provide you with a decision that is in YOUR best interests.

 

Equity release schemes are becoming a popular solution for homeowners aged over 55 who want to raise cash without having to sell their property. Although the safeties of equity release schemes are now assured by regulation, the decision to take equity from your property may still not be in your best interests.

 

Start of the equity release planning process

While there are different types of equity release schemes such as Lifetime Mortgages, Home Reversion and Interest Only Lifetime Mortgages, essentially they all act as a vehicle to release some of the equity that is built into your property, and you only need to repay it only once the house is eventually sold.

 

This is all well and good, however you should never shoe horn an equity release plan to fit your personal needs. In fact the opposite should be the case. Any equity release plan should be designed to meet your own personal goals & circumstances. If they don’t, then look towards the alternatives.

 

The fact that you are considering releasing equity means you have a need for financial planning and require funds to meet your monetary objectives. There is nothing wrong with that. Throughout our adult lives, circumstances will dictate that some form of finance will be required, whether it’s a mortgage, loan, overdraft or the credit card. As long as the finance selected was the right product for the right reasons, then it should prove the correct decision to make.

 

This premise remains the same even throughout retirement. The needs of the baby boomer generation are now proving more expansive than previous retired generations. With long term health improving & the over 60’s having a more active lifestyle, retirees have a flavour of living a more care free life and fulfilling their ambitions and dreams. However, jumping to the conclusion that an equity release loan is the only answer, may prove to be a mistake.

 

When should equity release be a ‘NO’

For every reason why one should take a release of equity, there are as many reasons also why not to.  Here we look at the reasons and alternatives why you should think twice about taking out an equity release mortgage, be it a home reversion or one of the many lifetime mortgages.

 

1.      Age – equity release schemes are not available until the youngest homeowner is 55 years attained. There are instances whereby one person may 55+ and their partner is younger. Under these circumstances it is still possible to take a lifetime mortgage only, however this should really be only under exceptional circumstances such as poor health or the management of serious debt issues (maybe to avoid bankruptcy or house repossession). The age factor is an important principle behind one of the negative issues surrounding the equity release loan – compounding of the interest. Remember, the younger you are when releasing equity from your property, the more time the capital has to compound on a yearly basis.

 

The consequential effect of a longer term is that the final balance will be larger; resulting in more of the proceeds from the eventual sale of the property needing to be paid back to the lender. Bear in mind this will not be paid back by you, you won’t be around, unless the lifetime mortgage is being repaid due to moving into a residential care home! It will effectively be paid back by your children/beneficiaries.

 

NOTE -the resultant effect of a longer compounding interest charging period is that the final balance being much higher and a correspondingly much lower inheritance for your children/beneficiaries. If this is something that concerns you, request an equity release quote and see what the potential balance could be in the future. Making certain assumptions on future property values and your anticipated life expectancy would provide an estimate of how much equity could be left, if any at all. Should this be prohibitive, then a solution, if right for your circumstances would be to delay you decision for a few years until such a time the roll-up effect hasn’t as greater an effect.

 

2.      Consider possible alternatives – equity release should really be considered a ‘last resort’ once all the alternative forms of finance have been eliminated. The reason for this statement is due to the long term cost of these schemes, whereas some of the alternatives, if affordable could be more reasonable and favourable for your children or beneficiaries. As part of the Equity Release Supermarket advice service all our advisers will consider whether any alternative forms of raising finance would be better for you. These could include the following: –

 

  • Interest only or interest only lifetime mortgage – if you can comfortably afford to make repayments during retirement then look at such schemes. Interest only or interest only lifetime mortgages would be better for your children as there is NO compounding of interest. The balance would remain the same throughout the term as when the mortgage started. Therefore, the final balance will be known in advance and any inheritance can be ascertained using assumptions on future property prices. With the minimum equity release loan available being £10,000, alternative loan types maybe better. Could a personal loan or credit card be used to service the debt? Certainly options to consider that would also clear the debt, rather than it increasing like an equity release loan.

 

 

  • Downsizing – dependent upon the size of your current property and its uses, then moving to a smaller property could be a solution. By downsizing to a lower valued property would raise money that could then fund your financial objectives. If nothing else, it could delay the decision to take equity release for many years. This is an important decision and not to be taken lightly. There are costs involved in moving house – stamp duty, legal fees etc and there will undoubtedly be improvements you wish to make to your new property which will also include additional costs. Moving to a new area will also mean new neighbours, facilities such as shops, doctors etc should always be considered as part of the downsizing process.
  • Check for means tested benefits – Before taking any form of additional finance in retirement, it would be prudent to check whether you have any entitlement to means tested benefits. This could include state benefits such as pension credit, savings credit or even council tax benefit. Therefore, always check with the Pensions Office or your local council to establish whether you could claim further income for the state. This would only relate to lower income issues and should your income fall below the thresholds set by the authorities then you may have some entitlement. Having this extra income may solve or temporarily solve the need for equity release. If you are entitled to means tested benefits it would also be sensible to check whether any home improvement grants are available on your property. This could be even if you are planning home improvements or not. You may be eligible for loft insulation, cavity wall insulation or boiler replacement under some local authorities.
    NOTE – if you still pursue a release of equity and you are drawing state benefits, the equity release lump sum could result in a partial or total reduction in means tested benefits. If you wish to check your eligibility for means tested benefits you can check with you local equity release adviser on 0800 678 5159.
  • Use existing savings/family bequests – if you have savings or investments that are not used for income purposes then you should consider using these funds before taking equity from your property. Bear in mind that taking equity from your property and merely leaving it languishing in a bank account is not best advice. In today’s interest rate world you will not receive a better interest rate on a bank account than the interest being charged on an equity release scheme.  Therefore, use any savings or liquid investments first, but bear in mind that an emergency fund of upto £10,000 is also prudent to have for that rainy day. This decision is always down to the individual as some clients feel more comfortable leaving greater sums on deposit, just in case. There is also no shame in asking family members for financial support, particularly when the decision to take equity release may not be to their approval due to the effect on their inheritance! Should a family member wish to fund your loan then this may be more cost effective for them, but this could boil down to whether they are happy tying up these monies longer term when they may have their own family needs in the near future.

 

Evidently, there are many factors and solutions that can affect the eventual decision as to whether equity release is right for you. For that reason it is imperative to speak to a financial adviser who is trained & qualified in equity release solutions.

 

To speak to your local equity release adviser click here or call Freephone 0800 678 5159 where independent advice is available.

 

 
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