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Posts Tagged ‘Home Reversion’

Why an Interest Only Lifetime Mortgage Calculator is The Starting Point for Your Research

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Are you sure an interest only lifetime mortgage is the best product for you? Are you even sure any lifetime mortgage is correct for you? Entering retirement can be a daunting prospect when you are cash poor, but asset rich. You want to know you have a place to live, plenty of money to live on, and can enjoy the retirement you worked so hard for. Equity releases like lifetime mortgages can help you enjoy that life if it is the right product for your situation. However, there is no ‘one product fits all’ scheme out there. There are choices like interest only lifetime equity releases, enhanced equity release schemes & new voluntary repayment plans. Each comes with their own set of USP’s and these are what you need to ascertain in order to discover which the best equity release scheme is for you.

 

The Interest Only Lifetime Mortgage Advantage
An interest only lifetime mortgage provides you with retirement funds, where you borrow a capital lump sum and in return pay a monthly interest-only amount. This amount can be the full interest that accrued, or in some cases only £25 per month. It depends on your budget and what you can afford. If you pay the entire interest that accrues per month then the principle balance remains the same for the life of the mortgage. At death or moving to an assisted living facility, you would repay the principle balance at that point. Any equity left in the home would be inheritance for your family. The advantage is keeping a little inheritance for your family versus spending it all on your retirement and the repayment of the loan.

 

Starting with the Interest Only Lifetime Mortgage Calculator
Now that you understand what an interest only lifetime mortgage offers, you need to find out if it is an affordable option for you. There is no point in speaking with any lender of these mortgages if you cannot afford it, or afford the £25 per month minimum interest payment. An interest only lifetime mortgage calculator can help you determine if you can afford the mortgage. For some you may not be ready to speak with a qualified specialist.

 

Others have spoken with a qualified specialist and received a value that seems like they should accept it. In fact there are many who accept the first offer they receive from one of the big providers of the loans because they believe it is the best option. Yet, they never once use an interest only calculator to see the potentials from other companies. This is where professional equity release advice is needed to compare the whole lifetime mortgage & home reversion marketplace.

 

Big companies have done well to establish their equity release brand. They have great marketing skills and the advertising budget to keep in the limelight. However, it does not mean they offer the best products for everyone including on their interest only lifetime mortgages. The only way to find out who has the best is by using a calculator to determine what other companies are able to offer you. There are all-in-one calculators from the likes of Equity Release Supermarket that look at all equity release plans and then provide a table of different mortgage lenders. In this way you can access all the estimate data you need to make an informed decision.

 

What Inputs are Required for the Calculation?
Now that you understand the reason for starting with a calculator to determine the estimate and potential equity release options, you need to understand what the calculator will ask for and why. You will be asked for your full name, phone number, email address, age, health, and property value from some of the best calculators. Some may only ask for your personal data and then say the information is in the email—this is data mining and of no help to you. You want a calculator that gives you instant results and at least asks for your age, health, and property value. This is all a calculator needs to offer accurate results.

 

Your age determines your life expectancy. Your health if good or poor determines if you will live longer or shorter than the average healthy person. There is also the assumption that males live shorter lives than females, so some calculators even want to know this distinction or if you are a couple in which case the age of the youngest homeowner has to be used in the calculator.

 

The age and the property value determine the loan to value percentage or estimate of funds you can unlock in equity. The loan to value is only an estimate based on the information you supply to the calculator. If you do not have an accurate property value, then you will have an inaccurate estimate. Zoopla and other websites can help you find as close an estimate to accurate property value as possible.

 

An important factor is making sure you use an interest only calculator or all-in-one when you want to find out about interest only loans. The calculator has to determine the estimate based on the amount of interest you will pay back each month versus property value. In this way the calculator can tell you if you can take more or less based on the estimated interest payment. It also leads to the decision of whether the loan is the right equity release for you.

 

The Next Steps in your Interest Only Lifetime Mortgage Calculation
After you determine that a lifetime interest only mortgage is right for you, you need to take the next step in looking at comparison tables and finding the best equity release company for you. You have a potential value that is as accurate as possible given the data you had to input into the calculator.

 

Now you know if you can afford the loan and if the interest payments are possible. When you speak with a company about interest only lifetime mortgages and calculator results, you can ask questions about their differences in calculations as well as some of their qualification criteria. You can also find this online and use comparison websites to see the typical estimate for your age, health and property value.

 

Make certain that you have an informed decision so that you can speak with a qualified equity release representative to obtain the best possible interest only lifetime mortgage for you. You may also need to wait till you are slightly older to get better results, at least with a calculator you will know. But as long as you have reached the age of 55, then a lifetime interest only calculator & mortgage is available to you.

 

Revealed – How the Bank of Mum & Dad use Equity Release to Fund 1st Time Buyers

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

Bank of Mum & Dad

 

It has recently come to my attention, having watched my own daughter attempt to buy her 1st property, how difficult it has become for 1st time buyers to fulfil their dreams of becoming a homeowner.

 

It also occurred to me that EQUITY RELEASE could in fact play a significant role in assisting the “Bank of Mum and Dad” and others in providing funds to enable these dreams to come true.

 

First some FACTS:

  • The average age for 1st time buyers is now 29
  • 2/3rds of 1st time buyers now turn to the Bank of Mum and Dad (BoMAD) for help
  • 30 years ago 12% of income was needed for a deposit on a property. Today this is staggering 82%!
  • The cost of an average house in the UK is 10 times bigger than the average salary rising to 14 times in London
  • In all but 2 regions in the UK, prices are 7 or more times the average salary for that area (Office of National Statistics)
  • More than 3.3 million 20-34 year olds were still living with their parents in 2013

 

Although these figures clearly indicate it is becoming almost impossible for 1st time buyers to get on the property ladder, help could be at hand – YES, from the “Bank of Mum and Dad”

 

Parents are an obvious first point of call. However with rising living costs, low interest rates and diminishing savings pots, it has become increasingly more difficult for mum and dad to find surplus funds to gift to their children, grandchildren or loved ones, to assist in fulfilling the dream of property ownership.

 

However, there could be a way to take an early inheritance from parents now in order to benefit 1st time buyers when the money is needed the most!

 

A special type of retirement mortgage commonly known as Equity Release could potentially unlock cash tied up in a parent’s property. This can enable mum & dad to generate sufficient funds to gift as a deposit on a property purchase for their loved ones.

 

What is equity release?

Equity release schemes are available in two formats – home reversion & the more popular lifetime mortgage. Both of these equity release schemes enable people who own their main residence to release a percentage of its value in return for a tax-free cash lump sum. These two types of equity release mortgages then run for the rest of your life & only repaid once upon death or moving into long term care.

 

The equity release scheme known as a lifetime mortgage has proven the most popular due to its flexibility. This has been strengthened this year with providers such as Hodge Lifetime & Aviva both providing an option to repay upto 10% of the original capital borrowed each year. Therefore, control over its final balance, or even repayment of the whole scheme over the longer term could represent a serious possibility, for either parents to pay, or the children themselves!

 

Lifetime mortgages are available to those aged 55+, with a minimum property value of £60,000. The amount that can be borrowed is not always based on affordability, but on factors such as age & property value. Effectively, the older you are, the greater amount of equity you can release.

 

Following a release of the equity, the lifetime mortgage company places a first legal charge on the property. This is exactly the same as any conventional mortgage and 100% legal ownership is still retained by the client providing peace of mind.

 

Typically, someone age 60 could release equity of between 18-25.5% of the value of the property, dependent on the lender concerned. These equity release funds can be spent on anything you like, however a sensible & cautious approach is always advised. Therefore, parents looking to assist their children onto the property ladder, a lifetime mortgage could prove an effective mortgage vehicle to achieve this goal.

 

Which equity release schemes can help 1st time buyers?

Equity release schemes have become a lot more flexible and innovative these days. You can choose to make NO repayments and have the interest added to the loan which is known as a roll-up lifetime mortgage. The amount borrowed plus any interest accrued is repaid upon sale of the property. This would happen on death (last death if joint plan) or having to go into long term permanent care. Thought must be given here should there be more than one beneficiary. With an increasing balance & possibly reducing net equity figure, consideration must be afforded to any remaining beneficiaries as to what they may potentially receive at the end of the day?

 

However, there are new repayment versions of equity release schemes that have proven even more popular with parents looking to securely gift money to their children to help with a property purchase.

 

Interest only lifetime mortgages from Stonehaven & more2life will allow the repayment of just the interest only element. By repaying interest charged each month prevents the loan from increasing and thus remains level for the rest of the mortgagor’s life. This is a great idea when there is more than one child involved. The problem has always been how to separate the gift now, from the overall inheritance at the end of the day if more than one child is involved?

 

The solution is having an interest only lifetime mortgage. By knowing in advance what the balance will be, this loan amount can be deducted from that child’s share of the inheritance at the end of the day. This would be even fairer for the other siblings, should that child also pay the monthly premiums on behalf of the Bank of Mum & Dad!

 

NEW -Voluntary partial repayment plans

Equity Release Supermarket now has access to specialist equity release schemes where there is the option to repay up to 10% of the original capital released each year without any early repayment charges. These equity release schemes through Aviva & Hodge Lifetime have proved popular for those not just looking to repay the interest, but also the opportunity to repay the equity release scheme in full over approximately 16-17 years. These voluntary partial repayment equity release schemes are proving to be the next generation of the equity release market.

 

How is the Bank of Mum & Dad protected?

All the equity release schemes we recommend are members of the Equity Release Council, which means that there are certain guarantees built into them for consumer protection. As a minimum the Equity Release Council will ensure the following guarantees are included:-

  • The schemes are portable and can be transferred to another qualifying property should you wish to move in the future
  • There is a no-negative equity guarantee which means a debt cannot be left to your estate even if the value of the property becomes less than the balance of the loan outstanding
  • You can live in your house for as long as you wish and with a lifetime mortgage you retain full ownership
  • They can be repaid at any time, subject to potential early repayment charges

 

Benefits of using Equity Release

Contrary to directly gifting your property to your children, by using equity release to gift instead, would avoid any Capital Gains Tax as the main residence is retained by the client. There could still be a potential Inheritance Tax liability, but only if the client died within 7 years of the gift.

 

The lifetime mortgage would be a deductible liability against the client’s estate, reducing the value being taxed and although interest would have to be paid on the loan; this could still prove beneficial to both the client and those receiving the gift. Always consult a tax expert on these matters in conjunction with your independent equity release adviser.

 

Of course let’s not forget the best part of this!

 

The potential to fulfil the dreams of our loved ones in an age where quite frankly, property purchase is almost becoming nothing more than just a dream for some. The joys of parenthood!

 

Next Steps…

I would be delighted to offer a FREE initial consultation to discuss any of the above matters relating to how equity release can help your children step onto the property ladder.

 

Please call me on 07788 605620 or 0203 7517228 or email cathy@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

How Does Equity Release Work?

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Equity release schemes have risen in the popularity stakes over the past 12 months. With regular articles in the tabloids, and increasing government awareness, lifetime mortgages have certainly raised the bar. But how does equity release actually work in the whole scheme of things, and why has it become such topical subject matter for those looking for a comfortable lifestyle in retirement?

 

Equity release workings

Primarily equity release is available to home owners where the youngest person on the deeds is at least aged 55. Equity release works by allowing eligible people to raise tax free cash from the equity tied up in their home. The amount that can be released is based on an age-related ascending percentage of the value of the home. In other words, the older you are, the more you can raise!

 

For example a single person in good health, aged 65, with a property value of £250,000 could raise a maximum of 30% of the property value. This would mean a maximum equity release of upto £75,000 with Aviva.

Even better, is the fact there are now impaired life schemes that offer ‘enhanced’ rates to people who are not as fit and healthy as they used to be and these schemes increase the percentage that can be drawn.

Therefore, if the same person was a smoker with high blood pressure, having diabetes & a history of heart attacks could now release upto £115,500 on the Partnership enhanced lifetime mortgage scheme.

 

Popular uses for equity release

The money raised from any equity release scheme can be used for any legal purpose from clearing credit card balances and existing mortgages, to helping children or grandchildren with deposits to climb onto the property ladder. However, many would be treating themselves to some lifestyle indulgences such as a new car, world cruise or home improvements.

 

Today’s equity release schemes

The modern format of Equity Release started in the mid 1990s with Hodge Lifetime (part of Julian Hodge Bank), Norwich Union (now Aviva) & Northern Rock (now Papilio UK) with a simple roll up lifetime mortgage.

 

Today there are three basic equity release schemes:-

 

1)      Roll up Lifetime Mortgage

This type of scheme has a few variations but basically the borrower takes an initial tax free lump sum, makes no monthly payments and the accrued interest is added to the loan and compounds annually.

 

The main variation to this is the “drawdown lifetime mortgage“ scheme. This is where only the immediately required amount is drawn down and a reserve cash facility is then offered with the remainder. No interest is accrued on this drawdown facility until it is taken in the future. The advantage here by taking it in smaller amounts is that interest is compounded at a much slower rate, than if it had be taken all at once.

 

Another variation of a roll up plan is offered through Hodge Lifetime on a roll-up basis. Hodge’s flexible repayment plan has an option to repay up to 10% of the original amount borrowed annually without any early repayment charges. Hodge also offer a unique ‘downsizing protection’ option whereby after five years, if the property is then sold and the owner moves & downsizes house, then no early repayment charges apply.  A great solution for many who cannot sell now, but may do so in the future.

 

 

2)      Interest Only Lifetime Mortgage Plans

There are two lenders currently offering this type of interest only scheme – Stonehaven and more2Life. Both schemes are fairly simple whereby a lump sum is withdrawn and the monthly interest is paid in order to maintain the balance outstanding level throughout the term.

 

This method has proved appealing to parents who are keen to minimise any inheritance reduction for their children. In recent times, since the withdrawal of the Halifax Retirement Home Plan lifetime interest only mortgages have become increasingly popular. Both these Equity Release Interest Only schemes have the added safety feature that should the monthly payments become too much (one applicant dying and their pension income reducing) then it can revert to a roll up equity release plan, where no payments are required thereafter.

 

3)      The Home Reversion Plan

This is now the least popular type of equity release mortgage. Nevertheless, it can prove to be the best advice in certain scenarios. The workings are that the homeowner(s) must have a minimum age of 65. They have the option of selling part, or all of their property to the reversion provider and then lives in that property, usually rent free, for the rest of their life. In truth, this is usually only appropriate when there are no beneficiaries to the estate, or they wish to leave a guaranteed percentage of the final value of the house to their children.

 

Home reversion schemes only account for less than 5% of the market these days. The market has seen a few withdrawals from the market by lenders such as Aviva and Retirement Plus. The three remaining home reversion providers are Hodge Lifetime, New Life & Bridgewater.

 

About the author

The author of this article is Barry Adnams, who is a senior equity release adviser at Equity Release Supermarket.

Barry is aware of what a monumental decision taking equity release can be. He is a traditional adviser that would always advocate a home meeting with family involvement. Barry offers an initial cost free ‘face to face’ appointment and likes to include as many family members as possible to be present to discuss whether taking equity release is the right option, or not.

 

If you want to benefit from the experience Barry has to offer and understand how equity release works further, then please contact Barry Adnams at Equity Release Supermarket, on 07989 281108 for a free initial consultation. Alternatively please email barry@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk.

The Birth of the Equity Release Calculator UK Style

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Equity Release Calculator UKThe improved confidence in the equity release sector has been borne by the industry providing accessibility to flexible and competitive products. Additionally, by introducing clarity, regulation and new online tools such as equity release UK calculators, customers can now partake in their own means of research to obtain information. These factors combined have seen a market spike in equity release enquiries, with an unsurpassed  level of interest than ever before.

 

This openness about equity release has allayed many fears. The negative influences of the past have been quashed when lifetime mortgage schemes & home reversion plans weren’t clearly understood by all. Although these products were fully regulated, they had never been embraced as a source of genuine retirement provision for the over 55’s.

 

Granted further innovation has been effected in recent times by companies such as Hodge Lifetime with their flexible repayment option, but it has only taken until then for confidence to take hold. Additionally, Stonehaven have gone against the grain with its range of interest only lifetime mortgage plans but this has been some time in the making.

 

This has all come about by the equity release lenders playing a leading part.

 

However, recognition must go to the various equity release brokers who have introduced their own means of building confidence in the equity release process. The brokerage sector has also adapted by devising tools and applications to help customers understand different products and find out how they would work in their personal circumstances. One of the most significant of these applications is the equity release calculator. Let’s look at equity release UK calculators and how they have made things much easier for the customer.

 

Until a few years ago, that is before the advent of free and instant equity release UK calculators, customers who wanted to find out the maximum amount they could potentially release given their age(s) and property valuation, had to literally go from door to door to each provider for an answer. This was an awfully tedious process simply to obtain the answer to a very basic question.

 

But then some providers and independent companies like Equity Release Supermarket started to offer the online equity release calculator. The idea was simple – users had to enter some basic information, including age and property value, so that the calculator could go through different equity release plans to find out the maximum potential release for the given age and valuation.

 

This not only made it much easier for customers to understand how equity release plans could work for their particular situation, but also benefitted providers by making the process easier and attracting more customers. At the same time, companies like Equity Release Supermarket that offer independent advice could inform customers quickly and efficiently through this simple free online service. Confidence was starting to return.

 

With the latest technology, retirees can now browse on their laptops, Ipad’s, Iphone’s, androids, Mac’s or the trusted desktop PC within the comfort of their own home and gather all the information they need at their fingertips. With the biggest growth area of the internet being the ‘silver surfers’ what better way to encourage online growth for the over 55’s and at the same time save hours and cost on the telephone.

 

Today, equity release UK calculators are commonly available, and most providers and advice companies have their own calculator on their website. However, beware of those who purport to provide a calculation, but merely gather personal data for marketing purposes. A true online equity release or lifetime mortgage calculator won’t need to hide any maximum calculation results for their own gain.

 

Upfront and personal, as they say, should be the key to a quality equity release calculator!

 

Taking the calculations one step further are some independent equity release information companies, for instance CompareEquityRelease.com who now offer not only the standard terms, but also a calculation free of charge, based on an impaired life. This means that should any potential applicant suffer from any qualifying illnesses, then a greater maximum lump sum could be expected. The enhanced lifetime mortgage calculator has therefore also evolved.

 

Furthermore, with the introduction of the interest only lifetime mortgage deals, new interest only lifetime mortgage calculators have been developed. Therefore, people looking to repay some or all of the interest charged can now benefit for the latest tools on the market to ascertain how much these schemes could possible lend. Technology evidently has had its part to play in the development of breeding confidence within the equity release market.

 

These new breed of equity release advice centres do seem to offer free, transparent and user friendly equity release UK calculators that show an unbiased & independent picture of the maximum equity release amount you could release from your property, healthy or otherwise.

 

To calculate the maximum equity release currently available based on your own personal situation click here or call 0800 678 5159 to speak to an independent equity release adviser.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Timescales

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.

 

Valuation

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.

 

Legalities

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.

 

Can I Still Leave an Inheritance if I Take an Equity Release?

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Equity release schemes have become increasingly safer over the past few years with inheritance protection options becoming more available. It is becoming apparent that equity release plans are now evolving further and diversifying. In today’s market a number of different providers have entered the arena with a variety of different equity release schemes. Although equity release plans prove to be a great option for many people, it is important to understand the concept & implications of equity release before going ahead with it.

 

You’re possibly wondering – is equity release a good idea?

If so then you need to understand the main reason for people being anti-equity release, which is the effect it has on their beneficiary’s inheritance. You therefore need to gather more information on equity release mortgages and the role they have to play in the retirement planning process.

 

One of the most common concerns that people have with equity release schemes is whether it will affect the amount of inheritance they leave behind. An equity release mortgage allows you to release some of the equity that is built up on your home, thus devaluing the property initially by the same capital amount. Over time however, this amount significantly increases as compounded interest gathers momentum, thus reducing the value of the estate. This essentially means that you’re using up some of the equity of the home, and leaving a devalued property behind.

 

There are different types of equity release schemes, and the two most common types are home reversion and lifetime mortgage schemes. A lifetime mortgage is a loan taken against the value of the property, which is repaid only when the owner has died and the house can be sold. A home reversion plan is the process of selling a part of the house to a reversion company, the proportional value of which is recovered once the owner has died. By selling a small part of the home, you can ensure that you leave something behind. This is one of the main advantages of home reversion plans over lifetime mortgage schemes, However, lifetime mortgages have come a long way in design & functionality over the past couple of years.

As equity release schemes have evolved they have endeavoured to become less risky. One of the characteristics of new equity release plans is that they come with a no negative equity guarantee. This means that whatever is left over after your debt is repaid goes to your beneficiaries, but if your debt is larger than the sale value of the property, the negative equity is cancelled out, and does not get carried over to your family. This is particularly relieving to those who want to release the equity on their home but are concerned about its repercussions on those they leave behind. Of all schemes this would be beneficial for would be the roll-up lifetime mortgage scheme whereby the borrower has taken the maximum advance possible.

 

Modern lifetime mortgages also have a new security option built into them which is called the ‘inheritance protection guarantee’. Equity release providers such as Aviva, Stonehaven, more2life all offer this safety feature available. By selecting a percentage of the property value you wish to protect, allows a fixed percentage of the property value to remain on the eventual sale of the property. The higher the percentage inheritance guarantee selected, reduces the maximum loan amount available from inception of the plan.

Equity release schemes have their advantages and disadvantages. While they may not work for some, they may be the perfect option for many others. As far as protecting your loved ones goes, modern equity release plans provide both a no-negative equity guarantee and an inheritance protection guarantee so as not to affect your family. However, always bear in mind taking out the equity from your house automatically reduces the value of the property you do leave behind.

 

 

Therefore, ensure you speak to a qualified equity release adviser who can explain both the pros and cons of equity release. Equity Release Supermarket provide a free initial consultation to discuss all issues around all aspects of inheritance protection including interest only lifetime mortgages.

Call the team today on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

Home Reversion Can Still Play a Part in the Whole Equity Release Scheme of Things

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Home reversion schemes have literally had their nose pushed out of the equity release market upon entering the year 2012. There has been a significant rise in the popularity of lifetime mortgage plans; including drawdown equity release schemes, enhanced equity release schemes & interest only lifetime mortgages.

Figures produced by SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans) show that home reversion plans now only account for 2% of the whole equity release sales. Drawdown lifetime mortgages popularity has captured 62% of applications & conventional lump sum equity release sales amount to 36%.

It is clearly evident to see the sincere lack of home reversion applications. Here we look at the mis-conceptions surrounding home reversion schemes & why they must still be considered in the overall equity release scheme of things!

 

First let’s look at the home reversion plan basics..

The home reversion scheme requires the property owner to sell part or all of their property in return for a tax free lump sum. The lump sum offered by the reversion company will always be at a discount to the percentage sold. The reason for this is that the applicants can remain living in the property for the rest of their lives, rent free. Significantly, it could be some time before the home reversion lender receives their money.

No interest element is attached to home reversion schemes. Unlike lifetime mortgages, home reversion offers guarantees as to the percentage of the property that will pass to the beneficiaries at the end of the day. This stems from the initial decision made as to how much of the property’s title is transferred to the lender. For example, if 55% of the property is sold in exchange for a lump sum, then this will still guarantee 45% of the eventual sale proceeds will pass to the beneficiaries. This is a major advantage of home reversion schemes over lifetime mortgages & provides peace of mind.

 

So why the lethargy surrounding home reversion plans?

Perhaps one of the major stigmas attached is the fact that you will not own your property 100%. The reversion provider will co-own the property with you, thus having a greater say in its maintenance & future planning of the home. They will have the right to inspect the house at regular intervals to ensure it is maintained adequately, thus protecting their security. Any major home improvements will also need their permissions in case you were thinking of extensions or knocking down walls!

Another consideration would be upon moving home or wanting to sell. At this point an equity release calculation would need to be undertaken to establish how much equity you own based on current value upon transfer across to the new abode. Therefore independent valuations would need to be conducted to ascertain current market value. This could prove difficult in today’s market with a lack of sales & depressed housing market.

The one danger of home reversion plans is upon early death. Home reversion would prove expensive should you die or move into care in the earlier years of inception. Effectively, you have given up a large portion of your home based on average life expectancy. If you fail to reach this date, then home reversion could prove a poor decision. On the flip side, if longevity is in your family genes, then home reversion could be a great decision. Oh the virtues of a crystal ball!

Nevertheless, this aspect of the housing doldrums could actually have a positive accent as to why a home reversion plan could be more advantageous than a lifetime mortgage scheme.  By taking out a home reversion scheme in anticipation that property values will remain static could prove beneficial. Afterall you are guaranteed that at the end of the day some equity will remain as you have a percentage of the property value guaranteed.

Compare this to lifetime mortgage schemes where the roll-up of interest compounds yearly & will continue escalating until the plan expires. In this situation, should property values remain static, then with a continuously rising mortgage balance & static house prices, will lead to the eventual erosion of the equity. This could be so much so, that NO equity remains at the end of the day with a lifetime mortgage.

 

So why should you consider a home reversion scheme?

As you can see the home reversion plan offers a sense of assurance which is not possible with many other equity release schemes. With the progress in medical science, the human body is capable of living much longer. Age therefore plays a major role in this equity release plan with a minimum starting age of 65. Indeed, the older one gets before taking out a home reversion scheme the better the terms that will be offered by the lender. The resultant effect of this is the older the homeowner, the more is paid as a capital lump sum.

 

Some of the negative issues surrounding home reversion schemes have been addressed by the providers – Bridgewater, New Life Mortgages & Hodge Lifetime. Particularly Bridgewater have considered many of these issues & allayed such fears by building in a series of plan options. Similar to drawdown lifetime mortgages, Bridgewater offer a flexible equity release plan which allows you to sell less than 100% of the home & still provide the guarantee of future withdrawals in the future.

 

Another home reversion plan flexible feature could be a ‘secured escalating release’ option which allows you to release a lump sum of cash now, together with a future income over a number of years. This is achieved with the use of annuities.

Finally, some home reversion plans could also offer protection on early death, so always make the necessary enquiries before entering into a long term financial commitment.

 

Home reversion redemption

The home reversion company will eventually receive their money by selling the property when the occupier has died or moved into long term care. Additionally, this type of home equity scheme offers the property owner the ability to change properties. This is a requirement of SHIP (Safe Home Income Plan).

Always take the assistance of an independent financial advisor so that they can help estimate the value of your property and help you decide on the scheme best suited to your requirements. Equity release is very beneficial for retired individuals who do not have a steady flow of income or require a capital lump sum for lifestyle improvements. One of the products that could succeed with these bequests could be the home reversion scheme as it offers stability, guarantees for your children and allows you to enjoy a worry free, rent free retirement.

 

For home reversion advice contact the specialists at Equity Release Supermarket on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

What Can Be Learned by Using an Equity Release Calculator or Lifetime Mortgage Calculator?

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

Those researching equity release will find the use of an equity release calculator and lifetime mortgage calculator as really helpful basic starting points in conducting their research. These online tools are excellent for understanding what the potential maximum amounts of equity release that can be withdrawn. They also prove that research is paramount in establishing whether lifetime mortgages, home reversion or equity release schemes are the most suitable option.

 

The best equity release websites will provide multiple calculator options that answer the most common question – What is the maximum release available?
Always try & find an equity release website that offers a calculator for each type of equity release mortgage option. This is vitally important, as the equity release calculators on most sites only provide you with ONE answer. These sites are not painting the whole picture & may lead you to believe that equity release plans may not be able to help your situation. They maybe just trying to capture your contact information & are basically not providing the answers you require.

 

What is the Use of Knowing the Maximum Lump Sum?

The more comprehensive equity release calculators will advise the maximum lump sum. This is an important figure which can be used to understand what the total amount of equity release loan is available, based on the specific information included in the lifetime mortgage calculator. The reason of this importance is down to the fact that you may have a predetermined lump sum in mind & unless an equity release scheme can fulfil this shortfall, then your dreams can’t become reality.

 

Both equity release calculators & lifetime mortgage calculators require a certain amount of information regarding your current situation. More in depth calculators will go that one step further & can even tailor your answer, dependent upon health. The main two elements required for input are the value of the property & the age of the youngest applicant. This equity release calculator can then provide the total equity release maximum lump sum for both a standard & impaired life arrangement.

 

Different Types of Equity Release Calculators

These will be a lifetime mortgage calculator, home reversion calculator & an interest only mortgage calculator. Of these, the lifetime mortgage calculator should provide two answers – good health & poor health (enhanced).

For an enhanced maximum calculation i.e. where there has been a history of ill-health, then further information will be required to determine whether eligibility will exist. The enhanced equity release calculation will offer a higher lump sum than standard. The assumption by the lender is that due to the ill-health, the term of the equity release mortgage will be shortened. Therefore, as the interest roll-up period will less, then the lender can release more & thereby protecting itself from the no-negative equity guarantee.

 

When looking at this equity release maximum lump sum provided by equity release calculators such as the one above, it is important to note that there are a variety of options available to the customer, from that point. Within that maximum, a customer could find an interest only mortgage or one of the many other equity release products that are currently available on the market.

 

Equity release schemes often provide these calculators because they provide such important initial research for customers. People over 55 years of age who have invested in property may find that interest only mortgages and other equity release products are excellent for the release of equity from their homes without having to sell. This keeps the property in the family or inheritance chain, but also allows the ability to recover some of the money invested or grown in value over the years. There are a range of equity release products available, and it is best to discuss needs with an independent financial advisor. However, before doing so, it is useful to do some background research on what options are available and an equity release calculator, or a lifetime mortgage calculator, is a great place to start.

 

To access the Equity Release Supermarket calculator click here or call freephone 0800 678 5159.

 

 
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