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How Long Does the Equity Release Application Process Take?

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

The equity release market is currently at its peak with a record number of applications. For those aged over 55 and are considering releasing equity, here we review how the equity release application process works, how long it takes and the involvement required.


The equity release sales process is now the most streamlined since the product was originally conceived. Increased competition in the marketplace from new providers has resulted in equity release companies looking at ways to steal an advantage. As better interest rates for customers are now also on offer and today’s equity release plans are much more flexible than those available until a few years ago, never has there been a better time to consider a release of equity for the over 55’s.



An equity release application usually takes somewhere between 6 to 8 weeks for a lifetime mortgage scheme and 10 to 12 weeks for a home reversion plan, assuming the title on the house is clear. The actual amount of time your equity release process takes, also depends largely on how efficient and experienced your solicitor is. Applying for equity release involves legal paper work, which needs to be handled by a solicitor and solicitors with expertise in equity release plans can help to avoid any potential delays in your application.


The First Steps

The whole process starts with completion of an application form which must come in conjunction with financial advice as NO equity release provider will accept an application without it. At this stage any fees required which would be clearly stated in the Key Facts Illustration (KFI) would need to be paid. Normally this would include the valuation fee made payable to the lender. Some equity release brokers do charge an advice fee on application; however Equity Release Supermarket would only charge their advice fee upon completion, so beware of paying unnecessary upfront fees.



On completion of the application form, it is then submitted to the equity release provider who will instruct a local surveyor to complete a basic valuation on the property. The role of this surveyor is to complete a report which will advise the current market value based on a relatively quick sale. The surveyor’s role will be to assess the local proximity to the property and establish similar properties and the price they had sold for within the last 3-6 months. Additionally, the surveyor will ascertain whether any essential repairs will be needed should the property have material defects that could affect the long term structure or re-saleability of the property.



At the same time as application submission, for speed of completion it is wise for the legal process to get underway. Unless a client specifically requests to use their own family solicitor, we would recommend an equity release solicitor from ERSA (Equity release Solicitors Alliance). One of the former members of ERSA is Goldsmith Williams, whose organisation offers a fixed fee agreement with Equity Release Supermarket clients of £395 +VAT & disbursements. Additionally, these solicitors will provide a ‘no completion, no fee’ agreement with our clients which should be considered for any future lifetime mortgage or home reversion application.


The solicitor’s role

Two sets of solicitors must be in place to carry out the whole process. Under Equity Release Council (formerly SHIP) rules different solicitors must be employed on behalf of the client and the lender. Once instructed by the client or broker, the solicitor acting on behalf of the client will send out an initial questionnaire requesting further information. This will include a request for information on whether any mortgage exists currently, the owners to the title, any restrictions, further tenants or major improvements that have been carried out with respective planning permissions. This questionnaire also provides the permission for the prospective solicitor to act on their behalf.


What about existing mortgages or secured loans?

Should any existing charges by way of mortgages or secured loans be present on the title deeds then they must be removed prior to, or upon completion. Any mortgage will usually be settled by the proceeds from the equity release scheme at funds release stage. However, another role of the solicitor will be to establish exactly how much will be required on the proposed completion date. This will be achieved by requesting a redemption statement from the mortgagee, who will provide the current balance and the daily accrual rate of interest being added during the interim period to completion date.


Provider requirements

For an application to proceed through to completion, the lender will carry out certain checks to meet money laundering and the consumer credit act requirements. This will be proof of ID including passport, driving licence or government backed evidence such as your annual state pension letter or Inland Revenue tax code notification. Should none of these be available most lenders will also require a birth and/or marriage certificate as satisfactory proof of who you are. Additionally, proof of address will be required, so a recent utility bill or bank statement will be necessary.


Equity release and adverse credit

Some lenders will carry out credit checks. You may ask why this would be necessary as NO monthly payments are usually required with a lifetime mortgage scheme. The lenders view is that if someone has been negligent with previous credit payments, then there may be a tendency to not look after their property, thus affecting the lenders security.


Nevertheless, there would have to be severe credit problems for a lender to decline an equity release application due to adverse credit. Most lenders will accept previously missed payments, defaults and even CCJ’s (County Court Judgements) on their credit file, unless they are significantly large. Even then, most lenders such as Stonehaven will accept the application as long as the applicant has been forthcoming with an explanation as to why the CCJ’s had been applied. Undischarged bankrupts would usually be unsuccessful with any equity release borrowings.


Latter stages

Upon successful valuation and title checks, the solicitor acting on behalf of the client will set the completion date. Once your equity release scheme has gone through, you can receive the money by having it paid directly into your nominated bank account, or if you wish to save the telegraphic transfer fee (approximately £30), you can receive the funds in the form of a cheque. Depending on the particular scheme, money can be borrowed either as a one-off capital lump sum or by taking ad hoc withdrawals from a cash reserve set up from the outset.


An equity release plan can be a great way to turn the equity tied up within your estate into something tangible and usable. But like any large loan, it has its own risks. Therefore, before you decide to release equity from your home, make sure you speak to your solicitor or independent financial adviser first.


Companies such as Equity Release Supermarket provide the ‘complete equity release service’ whereby we provide guidance to clients from the start to finish of the application process. If you have any questions with regards to the equity release application process please call 0800 678 5159 where a qualified adviser can discuss your requirements.


The Long Awaited Relaunch of SHIP as the ‘Equity Release Council’

Monday, May 28th, 2012

SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans) will relaunch itself as The Equity Release Council and expand membership applications to include equity release advisers, solicitors, surveyors and any other relevant organisations.


From now on, all areas regarding equity release advice & products made available to the general public will be covered by this new body. This will aim to ensure consumers are fully protected & aware of equity release mortgages & what they are entering into.


There will be a new Equity Release Council website that will front the trade body whereby consumers will be able to identify equity release advisers, the providers, equity release solicitors & other organisations that will abide by their standards.


Headed by new appointed chairman Nigel Waterson, the Equity Release Council will help oversee the new direction of the Council. Andrea Rosario’s role moving forward will be involvement in the more daily aspects of the organisation.


Additional appointments will be Chris Pond who will head the Board & determine & fulfil the rules that members must abide by. A technical committee will work with all members of the Equity Release Council to assist with moving the equity release market forward & make improvements along the way. This aims to create a more positive attitude towards equity release schemes in general for advisers & alike.


Commenting on the newly formed organisation Nigel Waterson said – “This is a really significant day for thousands of older people in the UK. After an extensive engagement process, equity release schemes now have a trade body which represents the entire sector – The Equity Release Council. “


“This is excellent news for the industry as by working together we can ensure that government and potential customers understand the benefits that equity release can provide.”


Andrea Rozario also commenting – “With equity in people’s homes likely to be at the heart of many people’s retirement planning now and in the future, it is vital the equity release industry, adapts to meet consumer needs.


Ms Rozario also added – “The launch of the Equity Release Council provides us with an excellent opportunity not only to make equity release products easier to access for customers but to encourage more product development to meet UK consumers’ changing retirement needs.”


Chris Pond’s comments followed – “Equity release could help many people meet their needs in retirement & a better quality of life, meeting the costs of long-term care, giving a helping hand to a younger generation or just clearing debts. But the market for equity release can only grow if the public and policymakers have confidence that the highest standards of consumer protection will be maintained.

“That’s why it’s important that all those engaged in equity release sign up to a code of conduct that meets consumer needs. The Equity Release Council will fulfil a vital role in building on the work of SHIP by extending that commitment throughout the industry.”


These changes and strengthening of the equity release market, further underlines the commitment of this lifetime mortgage industry to helping the over 55’s fulfil their retirement years with financial peace of mind.


Equity Release Supermarket also underlines their commitment by supporting such movements in the development of greater understanding of equity release plans. Thus, if you have any questions on these equity release matters please call us on 0800 678 5159 or email admin@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk


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