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Can I Move Home with Equity Release?

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

Moving Home With Equity ReleaseOne of the most common questions we get asked as equity release advisers is whether a lifetime mortgage is ‘flexible’ enough to meet any future change in circumstances?

 

Having reached retirement, experience has taught us all that life can be full of surprises and quite rightly this question is always high on the agenda.

 

This article has been written using my 10 years equity release experience & how I have helped guide my clients towards their ultimate goals, but at the same time alleviating any inhibitions surrounding equity release and moving home in the future.

 

The most common apprehensions regarding flexibility and moving or buying a new home can be summarised as follows:

  1. Can I move home if I have already taken out an equity release plan?
  2. Can I use equity release to purchase a new property
  3. How much can I raise on a new home using maximum equity release schemes?
  4. Can I transfer my existing equity release scheme to a new home?
  5. Can I still take out equity release if I downsize?
  6. If moving house, is it worthwhile transferring, or taking out a new plan?

 

So how does an equity release adviser dispel the fears and help their clients overcome the concerns that a release of equity mustn’t feel like a noose around their neck?

 

Considerations on Moving Home from an Equity Release Advisers Point of View

When we consider the question of a possible future house move, we can divide this into three very different scenarios; each one deserving separate consideration in its own right: –

  1. The first equity release scenario captures the proposition of using a lifetime mortgage, or home reversion plan to help fund the purchase of a new house
  2. The 2nd situation analyses the advice & legal process required when purchasing or moving home, utilising an existing equity release plan.
  3. Lastly, we explain the advisers perspective on what options are  available to a client with their existing equity release mortgage, upon moving home

 

Scenario 1 – Can I use Equity Release to help fund a house purchase?

An increasing number of enquiries seem to be coming in from people who are looking to move home, and this can be for various reasons. Some are looking to move nearer to their family for support, others are looking to downsize to repay loans and mortgages. Still others simply want to buy that bungalow they had always dreamed of for when they retired.

 

In the majority of cases, the best way to use equity release schemes to help fund a house purchase is to transact them simultaneously. This means involving an equity release application to be used as part of the legal process to buy. Consider this theory as exactly the same principle as using a conventional residential mortgage to help buy a new property.

 

In essence, by taking equity release at the same time as house purchase will save money by not duplicating the legal work, should a release of equity be needed at a later date. The rationale is that only one set of legals are required should equity release & the purchase be transacted simultaneously. However, if a release of equity is taken post purchase, then two set of legal costs are incurred; at the time of the house purchase, but then again later when equity release is done in isolation.

 

The rules are fairly straightforward, whether you use a lifetime mortgage or a home reversion plan for this purpose. A given percentage of the value of the proposed purchase property would be made available, depending on the age of the youngest applicant, and some or this entire figure would be sent to the conveyancer on the day of purchase to enable completion to take place.

 

Case Study:

Mr & Mrs Townley are aged 65 and looking to buy a property nearer to their daughter at a cost of £200,000. Their own home has been sold for £180,000 and, bearing in mind the additional costs involved, they feel they would need a further £30,000 to complete the purchase.

Following research, their lifetime mortgage adviser has recommended the Aviva Lifestyle Flexible Option where they could release upto 25% of the value of their new property. This potentially could provide them with a maximum release of £50,000.

They decided that they only want £30,000 of this for now but, as they don’t know what the future may hold, they ask for a cash reserve facility to be set up so that they could access the other £20,000 in the future, just in case they need it later.

 

Scenario 2 – Can I move home AFTER releasing equity on my home?

This is a different question altogether, but is definitely another one that comes up most of the time. Most people want to know before they enter into an equity release agreement, what would happen if they moved home in the future? This could be downsizing when one partner is left on their own, or moving into sheltered accommodation, if health dictates it becomes necessary.

 

First of all it is important to acknowledge that any lender that is a member of the Equity Release Council (which recently replaced SHIP) will allow the transfer of an equity release plan to a new, suitable property. Portability is an important facet of all equity release schemes.

 

Important considerations for anyone releasing equity include what they think MAY happen, or which is MOST LIKELY, as none of us know what’s around the corner.

 

If downsizing is the most likely outcome, then it should be very easy to find a lender that will allow this with the facility to move the equity release plan at the same time. A valuation would be carried out on the new property and the maximum configured equity release would be calculated. Having access to a lifetime mortgage calculator would be an advantage.

 

If the amount currently owed, is in excess of the maximum amount available for release on the new property, then the excess would need to be repaid from the profit made through selling and buying the cheaper property.

Of course some people want to have the flexibility of repaying the loan in full if they downsize later on and this is where some care is needed from outset to ensure this is possible.

 

As lenders become more attuned to what is important to equity release customers we are seeing some innovative thinking and I for one hope that this is a trend that will continue to grow over the coming years.

 

Scenario 3 – What should I do with an existing equity release if I want to downsize or purchase new?

This scenario is a continuation of the previous section, albeit taking into account in greater detail the options available & what should be done with an old equity release plan. It would be amiss of any adviser to automatically assume it would be in the client’s best interest to port an old lifetime mortgage or home reversion plan to the new property.

 

This is a key opportunity for an overall review of the older plan to establish its competitiveness in today’s equity release environment. From my experience of working at Norwich Union Equity Release (latterly Aviva), I am aware of older legacy equity release plans that in today’s world are outdated and uncompetitive.

 

My Experience of Norwich Union’s Legacy Equity Release Plans

The forerunner of all of Aviva’s equity release plans was called the Capital Access Plan. The Norwich Union Capital Access Plan had an interest rate, not charged against the balance, but calculated against the property value escalating over time. People with these plans who have seen a large increase in property value, will also had seen a proportionate increase in their equity release balance.

 

Another legacy plan which is no longer available is the Norwich Union Index-Linked Cash Release Plan. This a scheme which offered a maximum equity release lump sum from age 55, but with an interest rate linked to Retail Price Index (RPI). This Index Linked Cash Release Plan had a minimum interest rate of 4.89%, rising to a maximum rate of 10.14%. The calculated rate was dependent upon on the annual change in RPI which was then added to the minimum rate of 4.89%. Hence, this scheme did not provide as much certainty as today’s lifetime mortgage fixed rates.

 

From thereon in, Norwich Union or Aviva Lifetime Mortgage schemes had interest rates over 8%pa and potential early repayment charges of 100% of the original balance borrowed. Its schemes such as these that need assessing as to whether they should continue, or if favourable, could be repaid upon sale & a new plan taken upon simultaneous purchase of the new property. With rates today from Aviva as low as 5.68% annual, it could make sound financial sense to consider a new scheme which could save many £1,000’s over time by switching.

 

Free Initial Consultation

It is therefore essential for an experienced independent equity release adviser to undertake a full review of the entire situation & provide an impartial recommendation as to what is best advice moving forward. This will involve requesting an upto redemption statement from the existing lender, analysing the existing scheme & importantly assessing all the features including potential early repayment charges.

 

Equity Release schemes that were taken out some time ago are usually not as competitive, or flexible as plans around today, given the period of low interest rates incumbent over the last 2-3 years.

 

I would advise ANYONE thinking of moving to take advice as it may well be cheaper to change lender than staying with your current one and transferring your plan to the new property. The only way of finding this out is to take advice from an Independent Equity Release Adviser that is able to research the WHOLE of the market. By conducting a switch plans analysis, Equity Release Supermarket can address whether it would be worthwhile, or not, to switch equity release plans when moving home.

 

 

Examples of lenders already attuned to the option of downsizing – Hodge Lifetime

At the moment if anyone is thinking of downsizing in the future and repaying their equity release plan in full, then serious consideration should be given to a new plan such as the Hodge Lifetime Flexible Mortgage Plan.

 

This plan allows the borrower to repay the whole amount WITHOUT PENALTY if they decide to move home & downsize, as long as this is at least 5 years after inception of the plan.

 

Alongside this downsizing protection option is the fact that, if something unforeseen should happen and you need to move and repay during the first 5 years then the Hodge Lifetime penalty for doing so would be capped at 5% of the initial release in year 1, 4% in year 2, 3% in year 3, 2% in year 4 and then 1% in year 5. Significantly, the Hodge Lifetime penalty is more favourable than many of the gilt linked product related early repayment charges.

 

I believe this gives an added degree of flexibility for equity release consumers, and I hope it’s an indication that lenders are changing the way they change tact & begin providing greater flexibility as the need to move home in the future increases.

 

The fact remains that it is possible to move home and it’s imperative that you get the right advice when considering equity release initially AND when thinking of a house move as well.

 

Summary

It is probably one of the most important decisions you will make financially, as the decision you make now will not only impact on your future, but also your children & grandchildren’s future.

 

These are the reasons why we at Equity Release Supermarket always offer a free, no obligation, initial consultation which can be in the comfort of your own home or over the telephone, whichever is preferable.

This initial consultation gives us the chance to ask our clients about their objectives as well as their future plans, so that we can tailor any Equity Release scheme we recommend to each individual set of circumstances.

 

For your FREE, NO OBLIGATION, initial consultation (whether it’s your first time or if you want to review your current scheme) please call Mark on 07966 889597 or e-mail mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

Are you Releasing the Potential from your Retirement Apartment?

Sunday, October 20th, 2013

Releasing equity on a retirement apartmentWith an ever increasing ageing population, more and more retired homeowners find that their properties are becoming too big to live in. In conjunction with this another significant financial burden is the ever increasing energy costs associated with heating larger properties.

 

This could mean that they make a choice whether to ‘eat or heat’.  An old cliché yes, but a very apt and true one.

 

Specialist housing, or retirement apartments have been around for more than 30 years and just 1% of over 60’s are estimated to live in these types of properties.  For most, moving to a retirement property can ease the pressure of excessive bills, plus give a new lease of life and community spirit.

 

For others though, a retirement apartment could be seen as not being financially prudent or comes with some uncertainty for a number of reasons:

  1. Location: Specialist retirement apartments may be more expensive than the value of your own home.
  2. Service charges: These are payable annually, and in line with inflation, they tend to be an increasing sum.
  3. Pension income: May suddenly be reduced upon the demise of an occupier.

If you already live in a retirement apartment, you may have the concern that with increasing costs and service charges, you may not be able to maintain your cost of living, and have the worry of potentially needing to sell.

 

Did you know however, that there could be a solution?

 

As an Equity Release Specialist, I have over the last 12 years been able to provide homeowners with an alternate way of being able to purchase a retirement apartment or to raise funds to cover on-going costs and services if you already reside in one.

 

Firstly, if you are looking to purchase a retirement apartment, by releasing equity, you could raise the shortfall between the sale of your current home and the purchase price of your proposed new property.  The equity release could be raised on your new property and would complete at the same time as your sale and purchase. The equity release application could also be on a roll-up, or even interest only lifetime mortgage basis to fit in with one’s inheritance requirements, or household budget.

 

Secondly, if you are already residing in a retirement apartment, you could have the option of releasing equity to cover your annual service charges.  This could be by way of a lump sum lifetime mortgage which additionally has the option of a cash drawdown facility. This would particularly suit those looking to take annual withdrawals to supplement their income & cover the costs of maintaining residence in their retirement home. The drawdown facilities with many equity release schemes can allow as little as £1000 withdrawals at a time to suit those not wishing to withdraw too much.

 

Case study 1

Mr & Mrs F lived in the West Midlands, but had always dreamed of retiring to the coast and live out their remaining years in the peace and tranquility of a property with a sea view.  Their 3 bedroom house was worth £175,000.00 and they wanted to downsize.  Mr F was not in particularly good health and he wanted to make sure that Mrs F didn’t have the financial worry or burden that their large home would have if he pre-deceased her.  Downsizing though didn’t necessarily mean down-pricing.  The purchase price of their dream apartment by the sea was £200,000.00, meaning a shortfall of £25,000.00 plus the associated moving costs.

By giving Mr & Mrs F full impartial equity release advice and recommendation, I was able to offer them a Lifetime Mortgage lump sum through a specialist interest only lifetime mortgage lender for £35,000.00.  This allowed them to cover both the £25,000.00 shortfall to facilitate the purchase, plus £10,000.00 for moving costs. Overall, this not only assisted with the purchase of their retirement apartment by the sea, but also enabled them to live there in financial comfort.

 

Case study 2

Mrs S was already living in her retirement apartment when there was the untimely demise of her husband.  Now just in receipt of her own pension, Mrs S was concerned that she would not be able to cover the on-going living expenses.

The service charges amounted to £2,704.00 per annum (£52.00 per week) and being on a reduced pension, Mrs S would struggle to maintain her standard of living plus pay her normal household expenses.  Being a specialist in equity release, I was able to advise Mrs S of her options, including a full benefits check.

 

Mrs S was just over the threshold for benefits, therefore I could look at the option of a drawdown lifetime mortgage.  Mrs S released an initial amount of £10,800.00 to cover four years’ service charges, leaving her with a remaining cash reserve of £21,600.00.  The drawdown facility allowed Mrs S to release sufficient funds each year thereafter to pay her service charges on an annual basis.

 

How Equity Release Supermarket can help…

Over the years, I have helped many clients in the same or similar situation and have such pride in doing the job I love and being able to assist purchasers and homeowners alike. Being independent lifetime mortgage advisers Equity Release Supermarket have vast experience in assisting its clients with retirement apartment purchases or releasing equity on them.

 

In addition we have access to the best equity release deals including cashback, free valuations and specially reduced interest rates. We always offer a free initial consultation, to see whether we can assist the over 55’s with retirement mortgages and financial help.

 

If you would like more information on how these equity release plans work, please contact Marcelle on 0800 783 9652. Alternatively, please email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

The Halifax Retirement Home Plan – The Quest To Find Mortgages For Pensioners?

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Planning for your retirement in essence should start in your earlier years; however as we know life unfortunately doesn’t always go to plan!

Here we discuss the merits of the niche interest only mortgage product; the Halifax Retirement Home Plan which is becoming an increasingly popular way of providing mortgages for pensioners.

Since writing my original article on the Halifax Equity Release plan (click here to view), interest has certainly been escalating. The main reason being that people in retirement are unaware of their mortgage options once they finish work. But life must go on.

 

What is the history of the scheme?

Established in 1984, the Halifax Retirement Home Plan was initially available through the Halifax branch network and was developed to provide low cost mortgage finance for the retired & elderly.

However, under the Financial Services Authority review of the lifetime mortgage market in 2006, Halifax withdrew the branch license to offer lifetime mortgage advice.

Therefore, the responsibility for providing advice on the Halifax Retirement Home Plan was left completely with lifetime mortgage qualified advisers including independent specialists Equity Release Supermarket.

 

So what is the Halifax Retirement Home Plan?

In simple terms the scheme is an interest only mortgage for people who are retired & facilitates the release of equity tied up in the property. The release of funds can be for almost any purpose including:-

  • Debt consolidation including paying off credit cards/loans or mortgages
  • Holidays including cruises or just day trips
  • Replacement car or caravan
  • Home improvements
  • Gifts to the children providing a deposit for house purchase
  • Supporting your lifestyle through retirement.

Qualification for the Halifax equity release scheme is based on income. Halifax will only accept non-earned income & this must be in the form of: –

  • Occupational pensions
  • Private pensions such as personal pensions or retirement annuities
  • State pensions
  • State benefits including pension credits & disability benefits

The stated minimum age for the Halifax Retirement Home Plan is 65. However, as long as there is no earned income & justification for the size of the mortgage can be based solely on the above income, then ages lower than 65 can be achieved.

 

How much can be released?

The minimum release on the Halifax Retirement Home Plan is only £15,000. However, to establish the maximum release possible would require the use of an affordability calculator.

Halifax does not base the size of release on a multiple of income, but whether the interest only mortgage can be afforded through retirement.

The data Halifax requires for this calculation includes income, credit status, number of applicants & credit commitments outstanding after the new mortgage commences.

This procedure can be carried out by qualified adviser such as Equity Release Supermarket & is an accurate assessment of the potential borrowings on this scheme.

The overall maximum release available can never be more than 75% of the valuation of the property. Therefore, should the affordability calculator show a figure greater than this, it will still be capped at 75% of the property value.

 

Does Halifax require a repayment vehicle?

The answer to this is NO.

As the Halifax Retirement Home Plan is an interest only mortgage for pensioners, no form of repayment is required.

In contrast, the mainstream mortgage market is actually tightening its grip on new interest only mortgages, whereas this Halifax equity release scheme will still accept repayment by virtue of the eventual sale of the property. This would be on death of the surviving partner, moving into long term care or earlier property sale.

The term allocated to the Halifax home retirement plan is 40 years which should provide ample time for it to run for the rest of one’s life! This removes any concern about having to find the funds to pay off the Halifax scheme during your lifetime.

Most mortgage providers will only accept a mortgage term upto age 70-75 or in rare instances age 85. However, this only buys time as eventual repayment would be required. However, this scenario may still be suitable should one be downsizing at a predetermined date in the future.

The Halifax Retirement Home Plan therefore removes any element of capital repayment risk.

 

So what interest rates & products are available?

Dependent upon whether you are a new or existing Halifax customer will determine the interest rates & products applicable.

 

Currently, the better deals are offered to new customers as they have access to the whole mainstream Halifax product range. This is a great advantage, as there is full access to current low rate tracker & fixed rate products. Click here for the latest interest only mortgage rates…

These include deals such as the current 2 year tracker rate at just 2.59%. Based on borrowing £50,000 this currently would only cost £107.92pm (3.6% APR).

 

Additionally, if remortgaging from another lender then there is the benefit of a free valuation & free standard legal fees, which reduces the set up costs significantly. I have experienced clients who have just £800 outstanding on a mortgage or even documents kept in deed store that qualified for this free remortgage package!

 

What if I already have a Halifax mortgage?

The good news is you can still apply for the Halifax Retirement Home Plan. However, the situation here requires completely different advice & procedure. Should you wish to merely transfer onto the Retirement Home Plan then you can port over your existing rate which can be good news if on a standard variable rate. However, if you wish for additional borrowing then the process becomes a little more complicated.

The product range for existing Halifax customers is rather sparse & with the best deals starting currently at 4.99% fixed, hence there is a distinct advantage for new customers.

 

Such applications will be paper based & therefore processed manually which involves more human input. Experience has shown this results in a different underwriting approach to the process undertaken on new applications.

 

Can I pay off the Halifax Retirement mortgage early?

The simple answer to this is YES.

Unlike equity release plans where penalties can potentially apply for the rest of your life, the Halifax interest only mortgage will only have early repayment charges for the initial product term. Therefore, should you have opted for the 2.59% 2 year tracker product discussed previously, the penalties would only apply for the first 2 years. After, this 2 year period the mortgage would then revert to the Halifax standard variable rate, currently 3.5%.

However, before the initial rate expires you will have the option to take out a new product from the Halifax mortgage range available at that time.

 

So what is the advantage of the Halifax Retirement Home Plan over an equity release scheme?

The obvious answer to this is the fact that the Halifax mortgage is interest only & therefore requires a monthly payment of interest. The balance will always remain the same throughout the term of the plan. E.g. borrowing £50,000 today, will result in £50,000 requiring repayment once the house is sold.

In contrast, equity release schemes do not require any monthly repayment & therefore the balance will increase over time. Roughly speaking the balance of equity release schemes will double every 10/11 years.

From a beneficiary’s point of view, the Halifax interest only mortgage will guarantee an inheritance, as the final balance of the mortgage will always be known. This would be favourable for people who want to ensure the children definitely receive an entitlement to their parent’s inheritance.

 

With all this information & options available it is more important than ever to receive specialist advice to obtain the best deal for your personal circumstances.

Equity Release Supermarket can provide independent advice on both equity release schemes & interest only mortgages for pensioners.

For further information or to request a quotation, please ring Mark on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

 
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