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Steps to Finding the Best Equity Release Scheme

Sunday, December 7th, 2014

Best equity release schemeEach year the equity release industry celebrates its achievements at the Merchants Taylors Hall with its version of the Equity Release Awards 2014. This year in particular, equity release schemes have been taken out in record amounts & have led to unprecedented growth. This has been for a number of reasons, but primarily the innovation of new equity release plans from the likes of Aviva, Hodge Lifetime & lately Stonehaven.

 

However, it is the Aviva Flexible Lifetime Mortgage Plan that here at Equity Release Supermarket has seen the greatest impact & has helped many of our clients achieve their retirement goals. It was therefore no surprise that Aviva won the category of Best Lifetime Mortgage provider in 2014. This followed a series of enhancements to their lifetime mortgage plans this year, coupled with the lowest equity release interest rates, currently starting as low as 5.63% (5.83% representative APR).

 

These successful changes include:

  • Allowing clients to voluntarily repay up to 10% of the original capital borrowed each year, in up to 4 installments with a minimum of £500 a time.
  • On joint life equity release cases they now allow the surviving partner to sell their home and repay the scheme without penalty as long as it’s within 3 years of the first person dying or entering long term care.

 

Thanks to these extra features, Aviva has increased their market share even further but despite winning their equity release award it would be wrong to view their product as the best on the market for everyone. In order to find the best equity release scheme for you it’s important to get independent, whole of market advice from a company like Equity Release Supermarket.

 

Equity Release Supermarket’s philosophy is to spend valuable time to find out exactly what you’re goals are so that we can recommend the most appropriate scheme based specifically on these requirements. So, once we’ve gathered sufficient information based on your current situation, identified no alternative solutions exist, it is only then that we would enter the realms of recommending equity release schemes.

 

But how do we work out which equity release scheme is the ‘best’ plan for my clients? We consider a range of factors, such as:

  • Equity release interest rates
  • Maximum equity release calculation including maximum cash reserve facility
  • Early repayment charges
  • Set up costs
  • Flexible repayment options
  • Health and lifestyle factors for enhanced lifetime mortgage plans
  • Future retirement plans
  • Inheritance plans – attitude to risk

 

Seven Factors to Help Find the Best Equity Release Plan

Equity release schemes are constantly innovating and keeping up with their progress can be a minefield for those looking for the best equity release plan today. To help provide guidance on understanding the various aspects of equity release plans that can influence this decision, I have provided seven features and areas of research that Equity Release Supermarket advisers would analyze and discuss with you.

 

  1. Best Interest rates:

There are some excellent online comparison websites such as www.EquityReleaseSupermarket.co.uk where you can compare the best equity release deals in the market at any given time. The equity release comparison sites will currently highlight Aviva as offering some of the lowest interest rates for both drawdown lifetime mortgages and their lump sum counterparts.

However, simply offering the lowest lifetime mortgage interest rate may not make their scheme the ‘best’. Aviva do charge a higher interest rate to access the funds in any cash reserve facility than the initial rate and they cap the reserve amount if you initially release less than 50% of the overall loan amount. This may not therefore be suitable if you are looking to have a maximum cash reserve facility for your future retirement needs.

 

Therefore, it is down to your equity release adviser to assess & understand what your priorities are in leading to their recommendation of the best equity release scheme for you.

 

For instance, if you need to take the maximum equity release loan from your property, interest rates tend to be higher than the drawdown lifetime mortgage schemes. Hence, the ‘best’ scheme could depend on any of the other factors names above. The possible reason for the higher interest rate for the maximum equity releases could be the potential of invoking the no negative equity guarantee is likely to be greater the higher the release borrowed. This cost being passed on by way of the higher interest rate to compensate.

 

Currently, at the time of writing, the lowest lifetime mortgage interest rate is 4.75% (5.10% representative APR) which is the Hodge Retirement Mortgage. If you want to make monthly payments of interest to maintain a level balance, this scheme is excellent but it wouldn’t be the ‘best’ scheme if you don’t want to make any interest payments. As you can see, the lowest equity release interest rate alone does not determine it being the best scheme.

 

  1. Maximum Equity Release Plans

Equity Release Supermarket would always recommend that you only release the capital that you need, rather than releasing the maximum loan. This one area alone, in assessing the best equity release scheme, can have the greatest influence on the final inheritance for your children or beneficiaries. In fact, this aspect we find is where clients need to be guided carefully by their adviser, as many do not understand the consequences of taking too much equity from their home.

 

In fact, drawdown lifetime mortgage plans are now the most common form of equity release taken in 2014 & will surely be for equity release 2015 aswell. By taking the home equity plan funds in small staggered amounts, rather than all upfront makes practical sense for your own future balance & the inheritance for your beneficiaries. These drawdowns can be taken in little amounts as an initial £10,000, and then followed by smaller £1,000 tranches from the likes of Hodge Lifetime. This can be utilised to suit any future spending plans as & when they arise.

 

During my 15 years of advising clients on equity release, one of the most common queries I receive is ‘Can I access further funds?’

Let’s look at an example:

 

Margaret and Graham are both 70 and live in a bungalow worth £300,000. They want to be able to take regular holidays and buy a new car. In the future they’d like to gradually improve their property and supplement their income. My advice was to take an initial loan of £25,000 and set up a reserve facility. In order to work out the ‘best’ scheme for them we discussed whether the interest rate or the size of the reserve was more important to them. They opted for a larger amount of money on reserve. Therefore, after the initial loan – Pure Retirement offered a cash reserve of £83,000, while the Aviva Flexi Plan with a lower interest rate only offered a reserve of £48,000.The clients therefore opted for the Pure Retirement Drawdown Plan based on the future reserve facility.

 

Another important factor to a recent client was that she wanted the certainty that the funds available on reserve were guaranteed to be in place. Many lenders do not ‘guarantee’ the future of their drawdown facilities in case of change of circumstances, economic reasons or they just decide not to lend again in the future.

 

My client was concerned in case the lender withdrew her cash reserve funds in the future. In her circumstances LV= proved to be the best equity release scheme for her as they’re the only company to offer a guaranteed drawdown reserve, which is guaranteed to be in place for a minimum of 15 years.

 

  1. Best Early Repayment Charges (ERC’s)

Equity release schemes are designed as a lifetime commitment and are not aimed for short term borrowings or people who wish to repay the balance before the plan ends; on death or the last person moving into long term care. That said, there are a growing number of people who would possibly repay their equity release scheme early; due to change in circumstances, future health reasons or maybe family reasons. Therefore the ‘best’ scheme would be one that offered flexibility on early repayment charges over a limited number of years, either none at all or the lowest fixed rate possible if acceptable to the client.

 

An equity release company plan that has considered the topic of early repayment charges has been Hodge Lifetime. Two of their lifetime mortgage plans have been carefully thought out on this particular subject. The Hodge Lifetime Mortgage Plan allows homeowners the ability to downsize after 5 years of taking their plan & repay their lifetime mortgage with NO penalties. In fact even leading upto this 5 year period, should one downsize the penalty reduces by 1% each year; from 5% down to 0% over this duration.

 

The second Hodge product that assists with early repayment charges is the Hodge Retirement Mortgage. This product is an interest only lifetime mortgage and has a fixed interest rate for a period of 5 years. The Hodge Retirement Mortgage therefore mirrors this time by aligning the early repayment charges (ERC’s) to match the same term. Subsequently, the early repayment charges are just 5% for the first 5 years of the retirement mortgage term.

 

Most equity release lenders use government gilts as a measure in working out any potential ERC’s. This means that the early repayment penalty is variable and could be as high as 25% of the initial loan amount. For the standard lifetime mortgage plans, LV= are currently the only company who offer a fixed early repayment charge, which is 5% for the first 5 years and 3% from years 6 to 10. After the 10th year you can repay the scheme without penalty, so this may prove to be the ‘best’ scheme for some clients knowing what their future holds, or the Hodge Lifetime schemes should they have plans for moving house after 5 years.

 

  1. Equity Release Set Up Costs:

Typically the lowest set up costs doesn’t necessarily mean the ‘best’ plan, although keeping a check & comparing equity release set up costs is important for a number of reasons, particularly to save money! Why pay more to a broker for their advice fee when another company can advise on exactly the same plan, but for a lower cost.

 

Equity releases set up costs are made up of a series of fees levied by different parties to the equity release process. These consist of the valuation fee, lenders application fee, solicitors’ fees & your adviser’s advice fee.

 

Valuation fees vary between lenders, however through certain specialist brokers such as here at Equity Release Supermarket there are now many lenders that will offer ‘free’ valuations by process you application through us.

 

Lender application fees can also vary, with some either being added or deducted from the release. Remember if the application fee is added this will cost more over the long run if the interest is to compound with no repayments made. The Hodge Retirement Mortgage application fee is the highest at £995, but they do offer the lowest interest rate. Pure Retirement offer a cash-back on some of their plans which can cover all of the set up costs, but their interest rate isn’t the lowest. Just Retirement offer one of the lowest admin fees at £500, but not necessarily the lowest interest rate either. As you can see this is an area where careful advice is needed to find the best equity release plan.

 

  1. Interest & Capital Repayment Options

The major change to equity release schemes in the past few years has been the ability to pay either monthly interest or voluntary interest payments in order to cover some or all of the accruing interest. Again, the lowest interest rate might not equal the best plan.

 

We have already identified that the Hodge Retirement Mortgage offers the lowest rate, but you need to maintain a fixed monthly payment throughout its whole term. However, companies such as Stonehaven & More2life will offer an interest only lifetime mortgage too. However, rather than the concern of possible repossession should payments not be maintained, both Stonehaven & More2life will allow the switch from monthly payments to roll-up (ceasing payments), thus removing the concern of repossession.

 

Schemes which offer voluntary repayments, such as the Aviva Flexi, Hodge Lifetime and with effect from 1st December Stonehaven Interest Select range all allow upto 10% capital repayments. They all charge a higher interest rate, but they do include greater flexibility with regards to permitting these 10% voluntary payments.

 

The Hodge Flexible Lifetime Mortgage Plan & Aviva offer these schemes, and have now been joined by Stonehaven. Having a flexible approach has proved a popular way forward for many that wish to retain control over their future balance. These voluntary repayment lifetime mortgages can be planned so that either just the interest is repaid, thus keeping the balance level, or repaying the full 10% and actual seeing the mortgage balance reducing & even repaid over a period of 16-17 years!

 

  1. Health & Lifestyle Factors

Your health & lifestyle won’t affect your eligibility for equity release but can actually improve the amount you receive, or the interest rate you obtain! There are currently four equity release companies that offer enhancements to their schemes.

 

More2life & Partnership Assurance specialise in enhanced lifetime mortgages, however they may not be the ‘best’ plans as the interest rates are often higher. However, this for some retirees interest rates may not be priority, but the maximum equity release lump sum is. Aviva also offer enhanced lifetime mortgages and can either offer a higher maximum release on its Lump Sum Max plan or alternatively reduce their interest rate, if the maximum is not required & taken on their drawdown flexi plan. Depending on your health criteria, some lending may not accept certain ailments. However, certain enhanced lifetime mortgage companies such as Just Retirement, will go deeper into their health & lifestyle questionnaire & consider illnesses the others won’t accept.

 

  1. Inheritance guarantees

It’s sometimes important that my clients can leave a set inheritance for their families and some lifetime mortgage providers, such as More2Life, Aviva & New Life offers such guaranteed inheritance features. The inclusion of these guarantees can impact the interest rate and the amount of capital available, so careful consideration is needed to work out the ‘best’ scheme.

 

On forgotten equity release scheme that is over looked by many advisers are home reversion plans. Companies such as Bridgewater, New Life & Crown still offer this older form of equity release. Its popularity has waned considerably over the years, however the major benefit of home reversion plans is their ability to guarantee an inheritance at the end of the day. This works by selling a percentage of the property to the reversion company in exchange for a cash lump sum. The proportion of the property not sold is guaranteed to be passed on to the heirs once the house is eventually sold.

 

Summary

Overall, equity release advice is a specialist area of retirement planning. As we’ve seen there isn’t one scheme which is the ‘best’ on the market or fits all. There are far too many features & personal issues to consider that could have relevance to your recommended equity release plan. Thankfully, there are plenty of different options from many different providers. By receiving quality, bespoke advice from Equity Release Supermarket we can work out the ‘best equity release scheme‘ for you, without any obligation.

 

If you are looking to source the best equity release scheme for your particular circumstances & in need of specialist advice then please contact me – Mark Rumney on 07957 974826 or email – markrumney@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

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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’.

 

The Many (Sometimes Unusual) Reasons to Release Equity from Your Home

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Unusual reasons to release equityDuring my 10 years as a Lifetime Mortgage specialist I have come across a plethora of reasons to make genuine use of equity release schemes. There are the most obvious and popular reasons such as remortgaging and debt repayment; but there are also some that aren’t so obvious.

 

Equity Release Case Study #1

One that springs to mind is a case whereby I helped an individual back in 2007. This was a 74 year old male who lived in South Cheshire. The situation was terribly sad, but not without hope and possible happiness on the horizon.

 

His only child had been his son, who had unfortunately died a few years previous in a car crash. To compound matters further he had sadly lost his wife within the last 6 months of our meeting. Their greatest pleasure when they were together, was to go on cruises around the Mediterranean and Caribbean which they could fund from their regular income.

 

Following on from these unfortunate events, he re-evaluated his retirement plans with a positive outlook. He therefore decided that his life would now be split between 6 months at home and 6 months cruising, and it was now just a case of being able to finance his revised situation.

 

He decided he would like to raise a total of £150,000 by releasing equity after calculating that figure would cover his costs for the next 10 years.

 

I therefore arranged a flexible drawdown lifetime mortgage, with just an initial £15,000 and a large enough cash reserve facility that he could then draw upon, as and when required. This suited him perfectly and for a couple of years at least, I got postcards from around the world. The drawdown lifetime mortgage plan was his ideal plan and met his requirements not only now, but also into the future when further cruises and retirement expenses would be required.

 

That’s what we, at Equity Release Supermarket call an aspirational equity release case. That is one that helps someone to attain their goals in life and we are only too happy to help advise on such cases.

 

The other side of the coin is a needs based equity release case. This is where there is an urgent need to raise equity in order to stave off potential severe financial repercussions such as mortgage repayment, insolvency or even bankruptcy.

 

Equity Release Case Study #2

From my experience, such a case was with a 68 year old lady in North Derbyshire who had accumulated personal loans and credit card debts amounting to over £80,000. The strange part was that these were from gambling regularly on the Canadian Lottery of all things. Her family had contacted us to see if we could help which indeed we could. However, in order not to fall into a similar trap, I advised the family to remove or better still destroy her credit cards.

 

In circumstances like this, equity release schemes can act as an almost immediate relief from stress and worry and several times over the years I have had a letter from the client’s family. This provided me with personal satisfaction as they were thanking me for my considerate actions and telling me how not only does the client feel and look better, but I may have also added another few years to his life expectancy.

 

Being an lifetime mortgage adviser can sometimes transform people’s lives for the better and is one of the many reasons that I feel so passionately about the equity release marketplace I work in.

 

These are just two case studies whereby I have been able to assist retirees with their financial issues in retirement. Have it be known they are two relatively extreme cases, but I use them to show the diversity of reasons for using lifetime mortgages.

 

The reason I have been exclusively involved with equity release schemes for the last 8 or 9 years and intend to stay so until I retire, is because of the instant reaction to either attain the wherewithal to achieve ones goals, or to remove the stress and strains of financial problems in retirement.

 

About the author

Barry Adnams is the author of this article. Barry is one of the most experienced equity release advisers at Equity Release Supermarket, having previously worked as an adviser & manager at NatWest/Royal Bank of Scotland Equity Release.

 

Having worked with RBS Equity Release in 2005, Barry has much experience in dealing with retirees financial situations and is fully aware as to the importance that a release of equity can be. Barry endeavours to meet all his clients face-to-face, if not only for a cup of tea!  Dealing with his many clients this way enables Barry to discuss both the pros and cons of equity release and is always open to family members being present at such meetings.

 

If you wish to discuss anything in relation to Barry’s articles or any general questions about lifetime mortgage or home reversion plans, then please contact Barry Adnams at Equity Release Supermarket, on 07989 281108 for a free initial consultation.

 

Alternatively, Barry can be contacted by email at barry@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk.

 

To evidence the quality of Barry’s advice & feedback from his clients please check his testimonials on the Feefo link on the homepage (bottom right corner).

 

Equity Release Becomes the New Inter Generational Equity Vehicle

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

With changing attitudes towards inheritance planning, and generational gifting becoming increasing common practice, we look at why equity release is being more widely used as the retirement vehicle of choice.

Having advised on equity release schemes for the past 14 years, we’ve witnessed firsthand the sea change in perceptions over how much of an inheritance parents are now wishing to leave their children.

 

Couple this with the growing acceptance of retirement equity release schemes by the over 55’s, we are now seeing real evidence through equity release enquiries the lengths parents are actually prepared to go to for their children.

 

Why a shift towards equity release?

In the early days of lifetime mortgage & home reversion plans, people were looking towards a release of equity mainly for lifestyle purposes; a new car, holiday or extra income. Today’s economic environment throws a different light on the real purposes for releasing equity – necessity (mainly debt consolidation) and generational gifting.

 

Equity release schemes are now providing a vehicle of choice for many that were once looking towards the retirement mortgage market when they reached state pension age. With schemes such as the Halifax Retirement Home Plan now being made redundant & mortgagees reigning in their lending criteria on the much maligned interest only mortgage, it has left little scope for retirees to find a route into secured lending.

 

How can equity release schemes assist?

Basically anyone over the age of 55, with a main residence valued above £70,000 could become eligible for an equity release mortgage. Further criteria does apply, such as any existing mortgage, property type etc, however in principle age & valuation are the main eligibility factors.

 

To ascertain your maximum release, tools such as our equity release calculator are available on the Equity Release Supermarket website. Based on the age of the youngest applicant & the current sale value of your home, the equity release calculation will prove of assistance as to whether you can raise sufficient funds to meet your financial objectives.

 

For those with an outstanding mortgage leading upto, or actually in retirement, equity release schemes have become a get out of jail card. Having a mortgage at retirement is not a crime, however the ability to repay it has become a problem for many as lenders are beginning to tighten their belts on mortgages into retirement. We have instances of clients anticipating renewal of their mortgage at retirement, only to see panic set in when their lender refuses to extend & then rub salt in the wound by demanding repayment. This would ultimately result in either a remortgage, which is becoming increasingly difficult, or sale of the property to downsize. Neither offer stress free options!

 

Bearing in mind these mortgages were actually set up with a final repayment end date, one cannot always expect in today’s economic environment the banks to be that sympathetic in such instances. However, some leniency would be welcomed, or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

 

Equity release functionality

We have therefore seen how people are entering retirement still tied down with a mortgage. However, there are also an increasing number with unsecured debts, predominantly credit cards which people have trouble shifting once their income drops entering retirement. Perhaps realisation that there income has fallen hasn’t yet set in, which coupled with household spending continuing apace, sees the error of their ways without re-addressing the fundamental principle of ‘budgeting’.

 

The ‘equity release safety net‘ is becoming a credible solution for many in such situations. By taking a lifetime mortgage scheme, whether on a roll-up basis or more commonly an interest only lifetime mortgage, the debts can be consolidated into a secured loan fixed for the rest of their life. Depending on affordability once the debts were cleared, and attitude towards children’s inheritance, would determine whether the interest only, or roll-up version is selected.

 

Choosing roll-up means NO monthly payments. This has a benefit in leaving a household budget with a greater disposable income, particularly if all debts have been repaid. The negative aspect of roll-up is that the balance will increase over time therefore eroding, all or some of the kid’s inheritance. There are other factors that could affect the size of the inheritance, the main one being how much property values could increase by over their lifetime. Everyone has their own opinion on that.

 

Selecting an interest only lifetime mortgage engages an element of future discipline in that regular payments need to be maintained. However, there are significant advantages. These are that as the interest is being paid monthly, the debt will remain level for the duration. This has the added benefit that if house prices do increase, there could be an even larger inheritance to leave, even after you have taken a release of equity for yourself. With interest rates on these schemes starting at 5.59% (6.0% APR) and fixed for life, interest only lifetime mortgages now offer a credible equity release solution for many that were starting to despair at their lack of options.

 

Equity release gifting acts as a form of ‘early inheritance’

Finally, we touch on the growing realisation that children seem to have of accessing their inheritance now, rather than later. With difficulty for first time buyers in the current property market, the younger generation have turned to the bank of mum & dad for the answer to getting on the property ladder – using equity release.

 

This has been the biggest change in attitude we have seen in the 14 years of equity release schemes.

 

It has been two-fold: –

  1. the acceptance of parents to gift an inheritance now rather than later
  2. that the stigma of having to leave an inheritance when they die has gone

 

Increasingly, parents are taking equity out of their properties to gift to their children, mainly to invest in another property, occasionally for business or divorce purposes. It maybe all too easy for the children to say they would like their inheritance now, which is all well & fine if this is being taken out of their parents house & re-invested into their first property. Couple this with the governments help to buy scheme & providing 20% deposits leaves some children not having to strain themselves too much financially these days, judging by the many options available.

 

A great idea or not?

Some may say so; others may feel that the younger generation gets it too easy these days. Mortgages of old were also hard to come by & you had to save over a long period of time to find your deposit. Your lender even had to be the bank you held your account with!

It just seems the ‘I want it now’ attitude has arrived & the old fashioned ways of striving to find the deposit seem to have disappeared.

 

Whatever the consensus of opinion is, equity release is here to stay and finding such helpful scenarios of inter-generational gifting to become an advantage is certainly to be welcomed.

 

To discuss the topical areas within this article, or find out more about equity release and its uses, please contact the Equity Release Supermarket team on Freephone 0800 678 5159.

 

If you prefer to discuss in confidence, please send your email to mark@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.

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

 

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 – 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

The How’s & Why’s Leading Upto Retirement Equity Release

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Equity release schemes can be beneficial for those retired individuals who suit the old adage where ‘asset rich but cash poor‘ features in so many circumstances.

Throughout one’s life we have many financial demands to fulfil including buying that first house, holidays, bringing up the children & financing through school then university. There’s the ongoing home improvements, weddings & christenings & then the when you think its time to look after no 1, there’s the grandchildren!

 

It would seem that personal finances never get chance to take a breather!

However, this is all well & good whilst in continuous employment, as these expenditures can be funded out of regular income.

 

But how can one maintain these ongoing costs once retirement is reached?

Many people do not realise or make enough financial provision via pensions or alternative retirement funding schemes as to how much money will be required to fund the remainder of their years. Afterall retirement is effectively the longest holiday of your life.

 

We all know how much we spend on a short break holiday; consider how much this is likely to cost should this holiday last 20 years!

Average life expectancy has increased significantly over the last few decades, so as we live longer the greater the financial pension fund that is required. So can one really expect to be able to meet the financial needs of forthcoming retirement years? If so how can one fulfil this?

With lenders being few & far between in their numbers post retirement, how does one meet the potential shortfall that will inevitably exist for most of state pension age?

Well for the typical retiree, who has experience all the aforementioned lifestyle issues then equity release potentially could lead you into a financially secure future.

 

There are two main types of equity release schemes – lifetime mortgages and home reversion plans. Of these this article concentrates on lifetime mortgage schemes

 

Lifetime mortgages

Lifetime mortgages are special kinds of mortgage plans that are beneficial to individuals who are over 55 (for joint applicants, both should be more than 55 years of age). This is the most popular form of equity release & accounts for  almost 90% of all equity release plans taken out. The reason is their flexibility & the fact the property will always remain 100% in your own name. This is important for many people whom have worked hard to build up towards their greatest asset, their home.

 

With a lifetime mortgage, you get a secured loan which you can either take as an initial lump sum or ad-hoc withdrawals in the future whenever they are required. Interest accumulated on the loan will be rolled up over your lifetime until death or moving into long term care. At that point the property is sold off by the executors of the estate which they have between 6-12 months to complete this process of paying the redemption figure back to the equity release company.

 

Advantages

Lifetime mortgages do not require you to make any monthly payments unlike other mortgage schemes. You can spend your money the way you want & be flexible in the withdrawal of the tax free cash. This is facilitated by the equity release drawdown plan that enables you to take cash lump sums from a reserve facility as & when its required.

The main advantage of drawdown is that you are only charged interest on the amount actually taken. Hence, whilst money is still sat in reserve with the equity release lender, you are not charged interest on this portion. This removes the necessity to take a large initial lump sum & have it languishing in the bank or building society at an interest rate that is lower than that being charged by the equity release plan itself.

 

If any of the issues above feel of relevance to you, feel free to give the Equity Release Supermarket team a call to discuss the ways in which equity release could may be assist your retirement.

t: 0800 678 5159

e: mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

w: http://www.equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

Equity Release – What Are The Advantages Over Regular Home Loans?

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Equity release schemes allow aged homeowners to get some amount of cash against the value of their property. If you are facing financial problems and your pension is not enough then equity release is a perfect solution for you. By opting for equity release, you can convert the value of your property into cash.

The amount which you can get for your property will be based on your age, the current market value of your home minus outstanding debts.

 

To qualify for equity release schemes , you have to fulfill certain requirements such as:

• The youngest homeowner should be over 55
• The value of the property must be £60,000 or more
• You should have no or very little in the way of outstanding loans on the property

 

If you have decided to go for equity release then you must consider the types such as home reversion plans and lifetime mortgages. Under both schemes, you can release some amount of money and continue living in the property for the rest of your life.

 
Additional benefits of home equity release schemes

Once you have applied for equity release then you can either get a lump sum of money or regular income. The best thing about this money is that it is tax-free. There are many people who buy a second home, a car, repay outstanding debts or go on holiday. Improve your retirement and live frugally with equity release schemes.

 

Ring 0800 678 5159 today to receive your free initial consultation from an equity release expert.

 

 
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