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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

 

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

 

 
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