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Can Equity Release Schemes Prevent you Becoming an ‘Interest Only Mortgage Prisoner’?

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

Can equity release schemes help unlock interest only mortgage prisoners?It seemed such a sensible thing to do at the time. Perhaps you were just starting out on the property ladder or you wanted to move up market to afford that dream home and as a result your income was stretched?

 

Back then an interest only mortgage was a perfectly reasonable option for a few years until your earnings increased and then you could switch to a full repayment mortgage. Or perhaps, very sensibly, you set up a repayment vehicle such as an endowment plan or you relied on the anticipated growth of your pension fund to take care of the mortgage in the dim and distant future?

 

Reaching retirement with an interest only mortgage

Life never quite works out as expected and here you are, approaching or beyond retirement, with a mortgage still outstanding and with a mortgage lender demanding to know how you intend to repay. Either you never got around to switching to a repayment mortgage or, by reason of poor investment performance or poor advice, your repayment fund has fallen woefully short of target.

 

You are not alone! Earlier this year the Financial Conduct Authority report that that almost half of those borrowers with interest only mortgages, approximately 1.3 million people, may not be able to repay their mortgage. And the average shortfall is estimated to be £71,000.

 

Can the high street lenders help?

So how have high street mortgage lenders responded? Mainly by applying higher interest rates to existing interest only mortgages or by forcing borrowers into repayment plans, usually very short term for borrowers over 60, with little regard to affordability or even existing and adequate savings plans.

 

So how do you break free from this “mortgage prison”?

Firstly, you must consider your options for the future;-

  • If you have savings, do you want to use them to reduce the outstanding mortgage, bearing in mind that the cost of the mortgage will certainly outweigh any return you are making on your savings?
  • How much of your savings do you want to retain as a cash emergency fund?
  • Do you intend to move now or within the next few years and, if so, will this allow you to repay the mortgage, cover all the moving costs and leave sufficient finds to re-house yourselves?

 

Secondly, if these options are not available to you and you want to remain in the family home, then you could consider an equity release mortgage, preferably after eliminating all other possibilities and following consultation with your family.

 

How can equity release schemes help?

There are two types of equity release plans approved by the Equity Release Council and they come with the following written guarantees:

  • You can stay in your home for life or until you go permanently in to care. In the case of joint applicants, this is until the survivor dies or goes in to care.
  • The plans are portable to other acceptable properties if you want to move.
  • No further monthly interest payments to make, unless you elect to do so.
  • You will never leave a debt to anyone due to the inclusion of a ‘no negative equity guarantee’

 

The two types of equity release mortgages are

  1. Home Reversion Plans – where you sell a percentage share of your home in exchange for a cash lump sum or regular income.
  2. Lifetime Mortgage Schemes – where you release funds secured on your property with the option to either roll-up the interest with no monthly payments, or to pay monthly interest in full or part.

 

Case Study example

A couple aged 66 and 65 living in their home valued at £300,000 and desperately wanting to repay an interest only mortgage of £60,000. The maximum they could raise from a standard lifetime mortgage would be 29% of the property value, i.e. £87,000. They have options and the following are examples of mortgage products currently available:-

 

a)      They can choose to borrow £60,000 (plus more to cover fees) to repay the existing lender and have the interest rolled-up for life with no further monthly payments. The valuation fee could be free with some of the current equity release deals available. The other costs taken by lender, solicitor and adviser could amount to approximately £2,000 which could be deducted from the loan. The interest rate fixed for life on equity release plans such as the Aviva Lifetime Flexi could be as low as 5.62% (5.80% representative APR) and, in addition, they could have ready access to a cash reserve if they wanted to borrow more in the future.

 

b)      They can choose to borrow the £60,000 (plus more to cover fees) and pay the monthly interest for life or for a fixed number of years. Dependent upon income, the lifetime fixed rate could be fixed as low as 4.75% (5.10% representative APR) resulting in a maximum monthly interest payment of £238pm. However, if this is too much for their budget they could elect for alternative plans such as Stonehaven’s Interest Select range & opt to pay a lesser sum each month (minimum of £25). The remaining unpaid monthly interest would be rolled up and repaid at the end. The fees are approximately the same, but a valuation fee of £252 would be payable with the Stonehaven application form. Hence, we have interest only lifetime mortgage options to suit.

 

A new breed of lifetime mortgages

Recently, a new form of lifetime mortgage has been developed to help those looking for the maximum possible release. The enhanced lifetime mortgage, or ‘ill-health equity release plan’ has been developed with the maximum release in mind.

 

Although the maximum equity release isn’t suitable for everyone, it has its place for those who desperately want as much as they can release for either health reasons or a ‘needs must’ basis.

 

They differentiate from standard lifetime mortgage schemes by assessing someone’s medical history. Essentially, the worse one’s health has been, the greater the potential release. These plans are underwritten & are offered by actuarially based companies with experience in the field of pension annuities where similar principles are employed.

 

Therefore, an enhancement can make the difference between be able to repay that interest only mortgage, or not, so enhanced lifetime mortgages should always be considered with your adviser.

 

Summary

Equity release is a sensible option to escape becoming a “mortgage prisoner” but expert advice from a qualified equity release adviser is always essential. Explore the alternatives first and discuss matters with your family to obtain a second opinion.

 

If you would like a free initial consultation to assess your interest only mortgage options, please contact Mike Vicary of Equity Release Supermarket, on 07795 195302.

 

Mike has successfully helped people make the interest only remortgage transition, thus enabling retirees to remain in their home & avoid becoming an ‘interest only mortgage prisoner’.

 

 
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