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Posts Tagged ‘Financial Services Authority’

The FSA is now the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

Friday, May 31st, 2013

The financial market is one that typically needs strict oversight to help regulate the marketplace, making it a safe and comfortable place for consumers to invest and plan financially. Reassurance is key to a successful & thriving financial services industry.

 

Most consumers know the Financial Services Authority (FSA) to be the overall regulator of the financial industry. However, as of April 3, 2013, the regulator known as the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has undergone changes and has been renamed the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

 

There are several reasons for the change and there are also some impacts that may be felt by consumers, smaller firms, and accountants. For all intents and purposes, the FCA will be a more intense champion for the consumer than the FSA. The Financial Conduct Authority will better aid the average consumer and investor in finding the right products and investment strategies.

 

Despite the recent change, there are still several aspects of the regulator that have remained constant. For one, the Financial Conduct Authority will be largely staffed by the same people that staffed the FSA. They will be working out of the same location and will be regulating the same financial services and firms that were regulated under the FSA.

 

However, there are some differences between the FSA and the Financial Conduct Authority. The biggest of these changes is the idea that the business of regulating the capital adequacy of the largest financial firms, approximately 1,700, is now outsourced to the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), which a sister regulator of the FCA. Under the PRA, the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) will be overseeing the “macro” issues relevant to the industry. Both the FPC and the PRA are essentially a part of the Bank of England.

 

The Financial Conduct Authority has also gained some authority and power that was lacking in the FSA. For one, the FCA can intervene in the promotion of market-wide products. This means that the FCA has the power to ban the sale of fraudulent products.  This means that the FCA may have a stronger presence when it comes to advocating for the consumer’s best interest. This can only be good for the consumer and genuine financial advisory services companies.

 

For consumers, the change from the FSA to the FCA may not be felt very strongly. However, the FCA is an advocate for the consumer. The regulator allows the consumer to have a market place that promotes reliable products to the consumer. Without the FCA, consumers would have a much more difficult time planning for their financial futures.

 

All promotional materials showing the FSA are to be phased out by April next year, however many firms have already taken the initiative, embraced the changes and adopted the new Financial Conduct Authority as the necessary changes to keep on improving the industry.

 

Equity Release Supermarket are directly authorised by the FCA with permissions under their FCA no 584063. For assurance purposes all financial services firms can be checked on the FCA register to ensure they are fully authorised, or even what permissions and authorisations they have. To check any companies details click this FCA register link.

 

In addition for equity release purposes, we only recommend lifetime mortgage & home reversion schemes from companies that are members of the Equity Release Council. Both authorities combined, provide the assurance to our customers that Equity Release Supermarket provide the exact standards required to offer our customers peace of mind & the security that regulation can offer.

 

If you have any questions about the impact of the FSA/FSA changes or further details on the Equity Release Council contact Mark Gregory on 01925 830816 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk.

 

Equity Release – The Only Way is Ethics

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

With news that equity release schemes are becoming more of a mainstream mortgage for the over 55’s, we look at how the equity release market is regulating the protection of its consumers.

 

We have all heard the stories of how equity release schemes are bad for you and the local gossip columnists berating the expense of these plans. However, the equity release industry has come a long way since the original equity release plans were offered in 1965 when the average house price was approximately £4,000!

 

Why was regulation introduced?

It was the earlier version of equity release schemes that started creating a stir. Back in 1988 a new type of plan was introduced called a ‘home income plan’. They relied on using two financial instruments – an annuity or investment bond to provide an income, which in turn paid an interest only mortgage that raised the initial capital. The annuity income would have been sufficient to not only pay the mortgage but also provide additional funds to supplement the applicant’s income.

 

In 1988, the principles of the scheme were sound. However, there was no account taken of how future interest rates may change after a years of economic stability. Therefore when interest rates rose steeply in 1990 and property prices fell significantly, there were unfortunate cases of people experiencing negative equity. Additionally, as a consequence of higher interest rates, the annuity income became insufficient to cover the monthly mortgage payments, thereby wiping out the residual personal income also. These home income plans were subsequently banned.

 

The launch of SHIP

Such disastrous events were the catalyst for greater regulation of these equity release type products and led to providers in this market forming a coalition. This was heralded as SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans) and was introduced in 1991 to protect the holders of such schemes and their beneficiaries.

 

Further bad news

However, the problems were not answered immediately. During the mid 1990’s we had certain banks – Barclays and Bank of Scotland introducing SAM’s (Shared Appreciation Mortgages). These schemes worked on the basis that the mortgagee released an amount of equity in return for a proportion of the house value. No monthly payments of interest were required. However, the banks took not just the current value, but also a percentage of the future value.

You may recall that the mid to late 1990’s house prices thereafter soared. The bias was obviously in the banks favour (no changes there) to the tune of approximately three to one in their favour in any property escalation.

These schemes were consequently withdrawn and we are still hearing stories in the news today about people who took out SAM’s & have no redress financially from the FSA.

 

Step forward the FSA

Sooner, rather than later the Financial Services Authority stepped in to regulate the market & by 2004 the Government had brought forth legislation protecting lifetime mortgage customers. The protection didn’t just stop with the schemes; financial advisers now came under the auspices of the FSA and had to meet certain criteria to be able to provide equity release advice.

The FSA then introduced the Financial Ombudsman Service and put the FSA Compensation scheme in place to recompense people who had been mis-sold. Previously, applicants only had the courts as protection and taking on the banks could prove an expensive exercise.

By 2007, Home Reversion schemes were also governed by the FSA leading to stricter controls on all types of equity release schemes.

 

By this time some of the major equity release companies such as Norwich Union (now Aviva) and Northern Rock had joined SHIP. Equity release schemes started going through innovation with drawdown equity release plans becoming popular and being released initially by Prudential, Just Retirement & Hodge Lifetime. With mixed attitudes towards beneficiary’s inheritance, we had the introduction of interest only lifetime mortgages from Stonehaven which allowed some, or all of the interest charged being paid off.

So, not only has the market emphasis changed towards regulation, but also the products themselves have seen massive changed in concept and design.

 

Further peace of mind – legals

So far we have talked about how the FSA has helped regulate the market and the equity release companies themselves designing better products, but what about the equity release process itself?

 

The legal aspects of equity release have now been indoctrinated within the SHIP rules. It is here that extra layers of protection have been provided by the equity release solicitors and provide the final checks of the equity application process. From checking the identity of the applicants, establishing genuine reasons for the raising of capital, particularly when gifting to family and ensuring legal title & conveyancing thereof, solicitors have an important role to play.

 

Under SHIP rules, two solicitors must be involved – one for the applicant & the second on behalf of the lender. This is to ensure there is no conflict of interest and protect both the lender & equity release customer. The applicant’s solicitor must also sign a SHIP certificate to state he is satisfied that all aspects of the equity release have been brought to their attention, implications & that the rules of ‘caveat emptor’ persist. Until the SHIP certificate is signed then no equity release application can complete.

 

SHIP update

Further rebranding of SHIP was felt necessary as the market grew and a louder voice was felt necessary for the equity release market as a whole. After much debate it was proposed that ‘The Equity Release Council’ would provide the new voice of the industry. SHIP has now moved on and hopefully the feeling and attitude to all things equity release. It has travelled much distance since 1965 and overcome some dark days along the way.

 

Nevertheless, this is a new dawn for the equity release industry. With greater trust, greater demand and greater product innovation still to come the future is looking bright for the protection of its customers.

 

If you are considering equity release and need assistance on receiving the best equity release advice call the team on 0800 678 5159.

 

Reasons to Consider an Interest Only Lifetime Mortgage

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

What is an interest only lifetime mortgage? Well there are many reasons to look into interest only lifetime mortgages in order to meet the financial challenges in our current economic climate.

An interest only mortgage should always be considered before a roll-up equity release or home reversion plan. If you are looking towards protecting your inheritance & wish to pass the full estate to your beneficiaries then an only interest mortgage will do as it says on the tin. By borrowing a fixed amount & repayment of just the interest element will mean that the balance will remain exactly the same.

 

Example of an Interest Only Lifetime Mortgage

The interest only lifetime mortgage is an especially useful product for those over 55, as there are specialist equity release style interest only lifetime mortgages available. Often these plans provide historically attractive interest rates and features that assist those in retirement to plan their financial futures. Consider Stonehaven equity release, who offer several forms of their Interest Select Plan which is effectively a non-verification lifetime mortgage. With this plan you can effectively borrow a percentage of the value of the property & you can chose how much of the interest to pay – starting from £25pm upto the full interest payment.

 

What Purposes can it be used for?

Many people who are looking to consolidate debts will find the Stonehaven Interest Select style of interest only lifetime mortgage to be an attractive option for getting all debts under one single interest only payment. This kind of debt consolidation means that the actual total amount borrowed and paid monthly is thereby reduced & hopefully under control. Additionally, the lower interest payments are likely to be less than payments made over many other debts due to the considerably lower interest rates charged by credit card companies & alike.

 

Overall, this makes the payment of debts easier, as Stonehaven will automatically take payment by direct debit, and easy to plan as the total amount is taken monthly. The fixed interest rate option on an interest only mortgage is a very attractive offer. This means that regardless of the Bank of England manipulating conventional interest rates, the Stonehaven interest select plan will always remain exactly the same. For this reason and these features, is why the Stonehaven Interest Select and Stonehaven Interest Select lite (has lowest fixed interest rate at 6.13%) are so popular. More details about these plans can be found on the Equity Release Supermarket website.

 

Are Alternative Equity release Schemes Available?

There are alternative options available for those looking for equity release schemes, including other options for interest only lifetime mortgages. These could depend upon location such as Scotland & certain counties within England where we have access to specialist lenders.  It is therefore important to discuss what is right for you with an accredited independent equity release advisor who has access to the whole of the equity release & interest only mortgage market.

 

Another place to research equity release schemes and interest only lifetime mortgages is the Safe Home Income Plans (SHIP) website, which acts as a consumer safety watchdog for elderly financial products. The Stonehaven equity release products are all registered with SHIP, so these products also come with this important peace of mind. They also have the protection of being regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) thereby coming under the auspices of their compensation scheme.

 

There are many reasons for those over 55 years of age to consider equity release. Many often wonder what is an interest only mortgage? They also wonder what the best options are for their specific needs and situation. While a financial advisor is best placed to help, researching SHIP qualified products like the Stonehaven Interest Select interest only lifetime mortgages often help get started.

The Equity Release Supermarket website is also a useful place to start learning about the ‘ins and outs’ of equity release. There is a lot to learn, so be sure to speak to one of our specialist financial advisers as early as possible and often to be clear about the direction your enquiry is heading.

 

Call our Freephone number 0800 678 5159 for further details on Interest Only Lifetime Mortgage Plans.

Alternatively, follow this link to request a Stonehaven equity release quote.

 

Do Stonehaven Offer A Real Interest Only Lifetime Mortgage Solution Following the Demise of the Halifax Retirement Home Plan?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

Since its withdrawal in August 2011, the Halifax Retirement Home Plan has certainly left a void in the post retirement mortgage market. What options remain for pensioner mortgages?

 

Pensioners, who were proposing to use the Halifax Retirement Home Plan at a future date, unaware of its impending withdrawal, have now had their retirement plans severely disrupted.

Enquiries are still being received from retirees looking for a pensioner mortgage which can be used for a variety of lifestyle solutions.

With options from moving house, to holidays, gifting to children & home improvements, there has been a significant reduction in the interest only mortgage options available.

 

So why was the Halifax Retirement Home Plan Withdrawn?

Enormous demand for the Halifax Retirement Home Plan apparently consigned the product to its own demise. Success is not usually associated with dramatic failure, but it seems the Halifax Retirement Home Plan was in this case, a victim of its own success.

Given the volume of applications Halifax was receiving, even a lender the size of Halifax was struggling with such popularity. Towards its latter days the Halifax back office systems were choking, solicitors being incorrectly instructed & timescales reaching unacceptable levels, so much so that Halifax have actually compensated clients due to administrative errors.

 

Reasons for the Halifax Retirement Home Plan’s Popularity

Since the products inception in July 1984, the Retirement Home Plan lay hidden in Halifax’s mortgage book for many years.

However, certain intermediaries specialising in equity release, subsequently understood the product had a role to play in providing best advice & offered an alternative to roll-up equity release schemes.

Not everyone is suited to a lifetime equity release scheme where the interest rolls up & compounds annually for the rest of their lives. Roll-up schemes to some pensioners can prove off extremely off-putting, with the balance approximately doubling every 10-11 years. The resultant effect & the impact of the compounding of interest will be that their beneficiaries will receive a significantly lower or completely eroded inheritance.

 

Therefore, for retirees who did not want this scenario, the interest only lifetime mortgage proved an excellent alternative. Obviously supported by a good secure disposable income, the Halifax monthly mortgage payments could be fulfilled, with the resultant effect of keeping the mortgage balance exactly the same for the remainder of the mortgage term.

However, the doomsday scenario did eventually arrive & the Halifax Retirement Home Plan was pulled on 17th August 2011 at very short notice.

 

Regulation & the FSA Effect

With the FSA (Financial Services Authority) now imposing stricter regulation on interest only mortgages, this has impacted on the whole post retirement mortgage market.

Regulation here should be reviewed & consideration given to the plight of pensioners.

Over 60’s looking for finance have fixed income for life.

They are already drawing their state, private & occupational pensions.

They are therefore in receipt of a guaranteed income for life.

They can’t be made redundant, be off work due to sickness or take maternity leave!

 

Additionally & historically the retired generation of today have a different attitude to credit & tend to err on the side of caution. They have benefitted from house price booms of the last decades & consequently on the whole have a great deal of equity to release in their properties.

From a lenders perspective you can’t get much better security than this?

 

So why are the over 60’s being penalised?

After discussions with various lenders their defence has supposedly been the fragility of repayment. Considering monthly mortgage payments are paid by direct debit & pensions & retirement incomes are paid directly into the bank account, this doesn’t seem to hold true?

The distinction should be therefore be made between the people pre retirement & those post retirement with regards to interest only mortgages.

The FSA has understandably clamped down on first time buyers & mid life mortgagors taking out interest only mortgages with NO repayment vehicles. However, this has been to the detriment of pensioners whose cause has been undermined.

So for now we have to accept the level of caution in the mortgage market. However, moving forward consultation & consideration should be given to this corner of the mortgage market as it can have additional benefits to a fragile economy.

 

The reason being is that pensioners releasing equity in retirement do so mainly for lifestyle reasons:-

  • Home improvements
  • Deposits for the children
  • Holidays
  • New car/caravan

All these expenditures for one reason or another will help boost both the local & national economy.

 

What Interest Only Pensioner Mortgages Are Currently Available?

The aforementioned issues have arisen with the tightening of interest only criteria. Lenders will now insist on most mortgages expiring by age 75 & this will usually have to be on capital & repayment basis. More often than not this will result in the monthly cost being prohibitive, as paying off a mortgage of £50,000 over a short term of say 10 years can be out of most people’s affordability levels!

Nevertheless, a specialist equity release lender has analysed the situation better than most & hence we unveil the Stonehaven Interest Select Plan.

Offering SHIP security & choice as to the size of the monthly contribution, Stonehaven have covered all bases. This interest only lifetime mortgage provides lifetime fixed interest rates starting from just 6.13% thereby offering affordability now & into the future. With pension incomes rising over the years, but the monthly mortgage payments guaranteed to remain the same, the Stonehaven interest only equity release plan provides protection from future increases in interest rates.

However, it doesn’t end there because if financial difficulties do arise then there is always the option to switch it over to a roll-up equity release plan with Stonehaven. No further payments are then required & dependent upon whether the switch was planned ahead or not, will determine whether an extra 0.2% is added to the rate.

Stonehaven are members of SHIP & regulated by the FSA.

 

Rumour has it that niche lenders are now starting to look into pensioner mortgages & eyeing business opportunities, so there does seem to be light at the end of the retirement rainbow!

 

If you wish to make an enquiry on the Stonehaven Interest Select call the Equity Release Supermarket team on Freephone 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

On Why Finding A Good Equity Release Consultant Is A Must

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

The amount of equity you own is the term used to describe the value of a home less any mortgage or secured pending on it. Equity release allows you to free up this money tied up within your home.

 

The equity release process will allow you to receive a tax free, lump sum of capital allowing you to spend it in whatever way that you choose.

 

An obvious disadvantage is that you will not be able to hand down all of your property to your offspring. Nevertheless, you do get to live out the remainder of your life in your home, rent free or till you move into elderly care.

 

If you are considering an equity release scheme, the best way to get started would be to approach an expert. Some organisations which provide equity release schemes also provide a free consultation, so remember to take advantage of their services. Some research of the advisor would be of benefit as they must be regulated by the FSA (Financial Services Authority) & have an individual registration number with them. The equity release adviser should therefore be found on the FSA website register.

 

Ensure they are independent, which means they are free to deal with ANY equity release provider in the market. So ask. Some companies purport to be whole of market, however upon closer analysis they only deal with a handful of companies. You may therefore be missing out on a beneficial feature of an equity release scheme that they do not have available. This could save you £1000’s in the long run & could prove costly if the wrong equity release plan was chosen.

 

Your advisor will let you in on all the vital details regarding the procedure. This will be after the equity release adviser has collated all the necessary facts regarding one’s current situation. Guarded with this information, & any soft facts provided such as ‘how important is that you leave part or all of your property to your beneficiaries?’  will be asked. Also income & whether you are in receipt of means tested benefits is important as this will reflect on which equity release schemes are advised upon. The equity release consultant can then document & record this stage of the lifetime mortgage process.
Once an accurate financial picture has been ascertained & observed the clients objectives, the equity release adviser can then discuss the mortgage options available. These would include an explanation of the various schemes available to suit. Included in this would be roll-up equity release schemes, home reversion plans & interest only lifetime mortgages such as the Halifax Retirement Home Plan or the Stonehaven Interest Select.

 

You do not have to give them an instant decision; after all, going for an equity release scheme is a big decision and something which should not be rushed into.

Upon presentation of the equity release advisers recommendations a Key Facts Illustration must be offered to you. This would include a summary of the scheme in principle, costs & charges, future balance & the commission payable by the lifetime mortgage providers. This is quite a comprehensive overview of the scheme & covers the finer details, as well as the main features, such as the no negative equity guarantee & early repayment charges etc.

 

Once you have made your decision, all you have to do is simply call your advisor and give them the go ahead. They will have all your paperwork taken care of, contact your solicitor and keep you updated about everything, right to the time that you get your money released.

 

A professional & courteous adviser will confirm the funds have been released & offer any after care service in the future; for example when additional funds are required such as on a drawdown equity release scheme.

 

As a company Equity Release Supermarket keep contact with its clients to advise on new products & interest rates in the future as it is important to keep abreast of the market as & when more competitive products become available.

 

Independent & award winning equity release specialist Equity Release Supermarket offer all the above benefits & quality of service that the testimonials at the bottom of the home page illustrate.

 

To discuss your options in the release of equity from your property call freephone 0800 678 5159 today or alternatively complete our contact form & one of our advisers will be in touch

 

An Introduction To The Halifax Retirement Mortgage

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

It is of paramount importance that you make sure you have a steady source of income or enough capital after you retire to maintain a comfortable standard of living. You will want to be closer to your family, probably take more holidays with them and spend some quality time enjoying yourself. All this needs money, and the Halifax Retirement Home plan can give you exactly that.

 

Time tested schemes

Though the financial services authority has classified it as a lifetime mortgage, the Halifax retirement mortgage equity release scheme is an interest only loan. It is offered to you by one of the UK’s leading financial organisations.

 

Terms and conditions

Before you decide upon any equity release scheme, you should be aware of its features. Always read the offer document carefully and find out all the clauses, terms and conditions. Since your home is one of the most valuable assets you will own, these schemes can provide you with a significant amount of money.

 

For the latest Halifax equity release rates click here.

Alternatively to establish eligibility, call the team on 0800 678 5159 for a no obligation discussion.

 

Home Reversions Still Offer Greater Certainty

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Upon researching whether equity release is a suitable option, you may be finding most of the information available in the press or on the internet focuses on the main types of plans available which are Roll-Up Lifetime Mortgages.

 

There is in fact another type of plan which is less commonly understood and these are called Home Reversion plans.

I think it’s important to consider these plans in more depth. Increasingly home reversions are become more appropriate for those considering taking an equity release plan, particularly if those looking for a simple plan giving a high degree of certainty.

A home reversion plan involves transferring ownership of all or part of your property to the provider in exchange for a tax free cash lump sum (or you can choose regular payments). Your property is independently valued and from this the provider will work out how much they will pay you for the percentage of the property being sold.

 

The amount you’re paid wont be as much as the market value of the property. This is simply because you will be living there rent free for the rest of your life (or until moving out permanently into long term care). As a “rule of thumb” the older you are the more the home reversion provider will pay you for the share sold, that’s because your life expectancy is less. You are still responsible for paying all your bills, insurance and maintaining the property. At the end of the plan the property is sold and if you’ve retained part of it, your share of the proceeds will be paid to your estate.

 

When considering a home reversion company, it’s important to choose a provider who is a member of the trade body Safe Home Income Plans. SHIP members offer a guarantee to their customers, the main benefits of this are that you’re allowed to remain in your property for life (provided the property remains your main residence) and you have the right to move plan to another suitable property without any financial penalty. Plus of course you have the safeguard of independent legal advice.

Home reversions are also regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) which oversees how providers and advisers must deal with you. And finally, because home reversions involve the sale of property a third level of extra consumer protection is given by UK property law, which governs the relationship with the provider and their obligations towards you.

 

So what type of people are home reversion schemes most suitable for?

Well it really boils down to your thoughts and concerns. As a guide a reversion might be more appropriate for someone who falls into some or all of the following categories:

  • Customers who want to specifically avoid debt – a home reversion plan is not a mortgage & cannot therefore be repossessed
  • Those concerned house prices won’t keep going up – the risk of falling house prices is passed to the provider
  • People in good health and confident that they may live for many more years to come (for example there may be a history of longevity in the family) – generally the longer you live the better value a reversion becomes
  • Anyone wanting the peace of mind of knowing that if they need to in the future, they can access the maximum cash from their remaining equity – some providers will guarantee to always release further funds until 100% of the property is sold
  • Clients wanting to guarantee an inheritance for their estate – for example if only 25% of the property is sold, the estate will inherit 75% of its value after costs
  • Those wanting to release more cash from their property than they can by using a lifetime mortgage

 

Naturally home reversion plans are not for everyone. Generally you will only be eligible to take a reversion plan if you are 65 or older. Ideally, to get the better rates you would need to be over age 70.

As reversions are a long term commitment they should not be considered if you intend to repay the money released at some stage in the future (for example if you’re expecting an inheritance).

If you are in poor health or expect to have below average life expectancy then you may not get full value from a reversion either. However, we do have access to products now that do offer an impaired life (poor health) facility & therefore can provide an extra lump sum for this reason.

 

For those unfamiliar with how a reversion works there is understandably a little concern about giving up all or part ownership of your property.

The reality is that the terms and conditions of a reversion (ie the “small print”) are similar to that of equity release and your right to privacy and freedom to live in your own home are not affected.

 

Usually with a home reversion you are granted a lease for life to live in the property for as long as you wish to. And this important legal arrangement is recorded by HM Land Registry much the same as a leasehold flat or house is. So although you may have sold all or part of the property to the provider it still very much remains your home.

The decision to release equity from your home using a home reversion plan or a lifetime mortgage is an important one and you will need specialist advice from a Financial Adviser in order to do so. They can talk to you about whether equity release is right for you and if it is what sort of product best suits your particular needs.

 

To obtain further information on Home Reversion schemes, please contact an Equity Release Supermarket adviser on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

Equity Release Schemes – Do The Sums Actually Add Up?

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

The main concern of equity release schemes is the reduced inheritance which is passed down to beneficiaries. Here we discuss the pro’s & con’s of roll-up equity release plans.

 

First, let’s look at the effect on the beneficiaries & the source of the causes for concern. This then leads us to the equity release calculator with facts & figures showing how these schemes fair for the beneficiaries on final redemption of the plan.

 

Ok, we’ve have all heard the saying; bad news travels faster than good news & this is synonymous with terminology ‘equity release’.

Although equity release plans were initiated in 1965, the news damaging these schemes generally dates back to the late 1980’s when the first home income plans were launched.

Linked to an annuities or regular income investment bonds & an interest only mortgage, plans such as these were destined to fail, relying heavily on investment performance in a period of falling property values & rapidly rising interest rates.

 

The mid 90’s then introduced the much derided & chastened Shared Appreciation Mortgages (SAM’s), the focus of most causes for campaigns against equity release including Trevor MacDonald’s Tonight TV programme.

Therefore, its no wonder the industries reputation was soured.

 

So what has the equity release industry done about repairing this negative sentiment?

At the time of the SAM’s debacle, SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans) was launched. Formed from its originators – Ecclesiastical Life, Hodge Equity Release, Home & Capital Trust & GE Life all members agreed to abide by a strict code of conduct, which still exists today.

Soon new lenders entered the equity release market, with household names such as Norwich Union & Northern Rock with their newly developed roll-up equity release schemes bringing a significant boost & trust to the industry.

Although equity release schemes began to blossom around 2003 with approximately 25,000 equity release loans completed, a lack of regulation still overshadowed the equity release sector. The market was still somewhat bighted by the previous misdemeanours.

 

Thankfully, partial regulation was soon imposed on the equity release industry with lifetime mortgages coming under the auspices of the Financial Services Authority on 31st October 2004. Home reversions soon joined lifetime mortgage schemes & by 2007 full regulation & confidence was brought back to the equity release marketplace.

Therefore, the market has evolved & strived to restore pride; a far cry from the negative perceptions of decades ago.

 

So what does this all mean for today’s beneficiaries?

The main ‘clean up act’ came with the introduction of SHIP & its rules imposed on the members. The ‘no negative equity guarantee’ affords the greatest level of protection the industry has to offer.

Safe in the knowledge that any amount borrowed by their parents can never escalate to more than the eventual sale price of the property, they are at least guaranteed no debt can be passed onto themselves.

A crumb of comfort maybe, but certainly peace of mind for parents.

 

As an equity release adviser, encouragement must always be shown to involve the heirs to the estate. With their input & assurance, feelings can then be vented either for or against equity release being taken as for many this is a major financial proposition.

Again qualified advisers should play an important role in explaining the pro’s & con’s of equity release mortgages & convey these issues to all parties concerned.

 

What else does the equity release sector afford by way of protection?

Interest rates for home equity release schemes, albeit not the lowest ever, are still historically low. One positive feature of these schemes is the lifetime fixed rate on all equity release loans now.

 

So what is the benefit of this?

If you borrowed an amount of capital, with a fixed interest rate for life it enables you to calculate the exact future balance.

This is building further reassurance for potential equity release applicants.

We know the equity release balance escalates over the lifetime of the scheme; this is the nature of plans & should never be entered into unless this has been clearly explained. The effect of the interest compounding annually, approximately doubles the balance every 10-11 years, depending on interest rate charged by the equity release companies.

 

Sounds daunting? Well, let’s now look at the sums as promised earlier:

One of the lowest interest rates around at present would be the Aviva Lifetime Lump Sum scheme, which  currently has a fixed interest rate of 6.65% (6.9% APR) annual.

 

A male, aged 65 borrowing a lump sum of £25,000 on the 6.65% Aviva Lifestyle lump sum would know exactly what the future balance will be, even before taking out the equity release scheme. The Key Facts Illustration provided by the equity release adviser will confirm these figures & also the costs & additional features involved.

For instance, based on a release of £25,000 in this scenario would lead to a balance in 10 years of £47,594 & after 20 years would be £90,606.

This may seem expensive given only £25,000 was borrowed initially; however there are two factors that could still rule in the equity releases favour.
One common issue overlooked is the potential for property prices to increase. If so, & with 100% ownership of the house still retained the homeowner will fully benefit from any future escalation in the house price. This will then offset some of the compounding effect of the interest & mitigate its effect on the overall estate. Again, we are looking longer term & no guarantee can be given prices will go up; nevertheless historical data confirms they still have.

As a consequence, a rule of thumb is never to borrow anymore than required beyond the initial 12 months. Plans are now flexible enough with drawdown schemes being available that funds can even be drip fed over time as & when required.

Hence, by taking a lower initial amount would result in less interest being charged, meaning more inheritance passed to the beneficiaries.

 

 

The second factor affecting the balance accruing & is the main cause of equity release roll-up is purely down the fact that NO monthly payments are required. This helps retirees to have access to the equity tied up in their property & at the same time leave their budget unaffected.

Nevertheless, equity release schemes do have an increasing role in retirement planning for the over 55’s. Care must always be taken & never rushed into without discussion & involvement of third parties.

Advice should always be provided by an industry qualified equity release consultant. If so, & in the right circumstances equity release can provide a comfortable & enjoyable retirement.

 

Finally, hopefully lessons have been learned from the past & the industry can move forward, innovate & develop further over time.

 

To discuss any of these issues & with no obligation whatsoever, please contact the Equity Release Supermarket team on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityrelease supermarket.co.uk

 

Equity Release Schemes – Enjoy Your Life After Retirement

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

Do you need to unlock money from your property?

If yes, then equity release schemes could be the ideal solution for you. The best thing about these schemes is that they allow you to stay in your home even afterward you have released the equity.

Unlike other loans, the money which you receive through equity release is tax-free in nature & means that you can spend the cash in whichever way you want. Another difference between loans & equity release schemes are that loans have monthly repayments to make. With an equity release scheme you have NO monthly payments whatsoever.

Finally, a loan will always have a fixed term over which the loan must be repaid. However, equity release schemes has no repayment period from the outset as it only needs repayment once the property is sold.

 

How to qualify for equity release schemes?

Today, there are various financial institutions which provide equity release schemes. If you want to opt for equity release then you have to meet the criteria. First of all, you have to be over 55 with no maximum age and you must own a home which is worth £60,000 or more. The property should be mortgage free, or with a mortgage balance that can be easily repaid with the release of equity from the property. Therefore, the balance should be below the borrowing threshold that the equity release schemes provide.

Types of equity release schemes to fulfill many financial requirements, two different kinds of equity release schemes have been introduced onto the market. This includes lifetime mortgages and home reversion plans. Nowadays, many homeowners prefer lifetime mortgages because the repayment is done after the death of the applicants. Home reversion plans allow you to sell all or a part of your property, but have the advantage of guaranteeing an inheritance for your beneficiaries.

 

How equity release schemes are regulated

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) takes care of various regulations related to equity release companies & schemes. Additionally, the equity release adviser should also be regulated by the FSA & can be checked on the FSA register which is on the FSA website. Moreover, within the equity release industry a trade body has been formed named SHIP (Safe Home Income Plan) & was formed in 1991. This SHIP organisation regulates all the equity release schemes offered by different financial institutions in the UK & liaises with the government on regulation changes & amendments to the equity release marketplace.

 

If you have any equity release questions relating to whether equity release can benefit you then please call our friendly adviser team on 0800 678 5159.

Alternatively email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

Equity Release – Five Factors To Consider Before Taking A Decision

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Do you need extra more money during your retirement?

If the answer is yes, then equity release can be an ideal solution. Today, many equity release companies exist who provide different mortgage schemes to homeowners who are above 55 years of age. By opting for these schemes, you can release equity or money against the value of your home. Before taking a final decision, it is important to consider few factors. These include:

 

Flexibility – You have to check how flexible your equity release plan is. Choose the scheme which allows you to draw more money or allows you to sell the property, if required. There are lenders who also allow the applicant to make ad-hoc repayments off the balance (subject to early repayment charges)

Fees – The fees for purchasing equity release schemes depend on the provider. Consideration should be given to the plan whose fees are the lowest. Nevertheless, this shouldn’t be classed as the over riding factor. Special offers such as cashbacks, free valuations all help to keep the costs down. Check with Equity Release Supermarket to see what offers they can find you.

Interest rates – Similar to fees, the interest can vary on the basis of the scheme or mortgage chosen. Before choosing, it is recommended to compare the interest rates of different schemes. Rates currently can vary from as low as 6.59% up to 7.59% & this can have a massive effect on the final balance at the end of the day. Always check aswell that the interest rate being quoted is annual. Some equity release companies quote on a monthly & some annual basis. A monthly interest rate of 6.59% is actually higher than an annual interest rate of 6.59%, due to the quicker compounding effect of monthly v annual interest.

S.H.I.P (Safe Home Income Plans) – This is an organisation which was set up to protect the rights of consumers or purchasers of home equity schemes. Whichever scheme you choose, ensure that the lender is a member of this organisation. As a result of using a ship equity release company, means that the solicitor will have to sign a SHIP certificate to say that they have acted on the clients behalf & they understand what they are entering into. Additionally, being a member of SHIP means the scheme has to meet certain criteria – to be able to be repaid; to be able to move house & inlcude a no negative equity release guarantee.

Financial Services Authority (FSA) – The FSA is a regulatory body in the UK which takes care of the rules and regulations followed by the financial companies. Always choose a company which is registered with the FSA thus affording the protection the FSA provide.

 

It is advisable to hire a qualified financial consultant before investing in any one of the equity release schemes currently available in the market.

Equity Release Supermarket have experienced advisers who can source the whole of the market to find the best equity release deal for you.

Call freephone 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket to discuss your requirements further.

 

 
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