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How Low Can Equity Release Interest Rates Go?

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Aviva's lowest ever equity release interest rateHaving been advising on Equity Release since the halcyon days of Norwich Union, I have seen a continual, albeit gradual decrease in the level of equity release interest rates. The latest news has it that Aviva will be aggressively reducing their interest rates today –  Monday 26th January 2015 to an unprecedented lowest rate ever, starting from just 5.13%!

 

So what are the factors behind this interest rate drop, given the rest of the equity release companies trail so far behind Aviva in competitiveness?

 

History of Equity Release Interest Rates

Equity release interest rates historically don’t tend to move that regularly, or by very much. It tends to be market forces that dictate how competitively they wish to be & where they wish to be positioned in the market. Going back the early days of equity release schemes, particularly plans from Northern Rock (now Papilio) and Norwich Union (now Aviva), their early interest rates were in excess of 8%. However, comparatively mainstream mortgage rates were also higher at that time and therefore equity release plans were not considered as expensive as they look today.

 

Time to Consider Interest Rate Diversification?

However, the difference between mainstream mortgage rates and equity release interest rates is the fact that equity release schemes historically have a fixed interest rate for life. Residential mortgages don’t & therefore can be re-appraised frequently which enables the best interest rate to be achieved each time.

 

Perhaps it’s time that equity release providers took time to consider this fixed lifetime interest rate offering? Afterall, the reason that traditional equity release schemes have a fixed rate is to act as a safety net due to the compounding effect of interest as no payments are normally necessary, or permitted. This also aides the protection of their insurance policy, which is the ‘no negative equity guarantee’.

 

How Can Equity Release Lenders Reduce Interest Rates Further?

New Voluntary Repayment Plans from the likes of Aviva, Stonehaven & Hodge Lifetime accept repayments of upto 10%pa with NO penalty and therefore if managed correctly cancel out the potential compounding effect of interest. Therefore, would it not make sense for these lifetime mortgage lenders to offer a reviewable interest rate every so many years? A reviewable interest rate could have a bearing on the nature of early repayment charges where so many equity release companies use the unpredictable nature of government gilts as their barometer. Retirees are looking for greater flexibility these days and a change in structure could certainly assist.

 

Catering to the New Silver Surfer Generation

More retirees are becoming financially savvy, particularly those arriving at retirement still owning interest only mortgages. This crop of mortgagors have experienced the variances in interest rates & the different types of rates available during their mortgage years. For instance, is it not time for a standard variable equity release interest rate, or a tracker equity release interest rate? Why not, if the interest or upto 10% of the original capital is to be repaid each year, then why is it necessary to have a lifetime fixed interest rate?

 

If the equity release market is set to expand it needs further innovation & development of its equity release schemes. Therefore, should the forecast for future interest rates be historically low, then it would make sense to consider the options of tracker, discounted or variable interest rates. Perhaps the future of the no negative equity guarantee can be questionable given this has an effect of increasing the interest rate by upto 0.5%?

Why not have the option of choosing whether to include the no negative equity guarantee, or not. With that would come the choice of two representative interest rates; one including the guarantee & a lower interest rate without it. These options could all help to reduce the future interest rates of equity release plans & help the market move forward & expand.

 

A strong case in question for the optional inclusion of the no negative equity guarantee would be where retirees are committed to making repayments & managing the future balance of their lifetime mortgage scheme. Clearly advice of the consequences of not including this guarantee should always be provided, but we shouldn’t be treating the majority of equity release consumers with kid gloves. Equity releasers can themselves make informed decisions based on the facts & advice provided. As long as the adviser is giving quality impartial equity release advice then why can’t the industry open up & start becoming more diverse in its thought process & product innovation!

 

New Aviva Flexible Lifetime Mortgage Interest Rate

As stated earlier Aviva are to significantly reduce their minimum interest rate on their Flexible Lifetime Mortgage Plan. Equity Release Supermarket is able to obtain a lower interest rate than mainstream equity release advisers. This is set to continue from 26th January 2015 with the reduction in the minimum interest rate as calculated by the Aviva flex tool calculation. The lowest equity release interest rate with Aviva is determined by personal criteria, such as age, property value & also health.

 

Consider the following equity release scenario: –

Mr & Mrs Chambers are aged 67 & 64 respectively & own a property valued at £250,000 which is unencumbered. Unfortunately, Mrs Chambers had cancer last year and they now realised how important it is for them to enjoy their retirement. They wish to go on a cruise, carry out home improvements and release approximately £30,000 with access to a future cash reserve facility.

 

After conducting research with Equity Release Supermarket they were recommended the Aviva Flexi Plan with an interest rate of just 5.13%pa (5.33% representative APR). This recommendation was borrowing £30,000 & having a further cash reserve facility of £33,000 for possible future use.

 

Aviva’s Lowest Ever Equity Release Interest Rate To-Date

This 5.13% enhanced lifetime mortgage rate is the lowest ever equity release interest rate that any home equity release company has made available in the history of equity release & presents many opportunities for retirees to consider their future finances: –

 

  1. Those people with interest only mortgages – where lenders are demanding repayment as the end term has been reached & they are not prepared to extend can benefit from these interest rate reductions. By switching onto the Aviva Flexi Lifetime Mortgage Plan they could consolidate onto a mortgage for life, at a low fixed interest rate, thus enabling them to budget accordingly knowing the interest to be charged in the future.
  1. Existing equity release customers – who are on interest rates that are over 6%pa should consider whether to remain with their existing lender or switch equity release plans. By taking a lower interest rate would mean less interest charged & hence either a lower future balance, or less interest payments to maintain control over the balance. There are factors to consider such as potential early repayment charges & set up costs, however this is a calculation your Equity Release Supermarket adviser can arrange & analyse for you.
  1. Anyone over the age of 55 – who has been contemplating taking a release of equity, but maybe waiting for the optimum interest rate or occasion to apply for it. With the various lifetime mortgage schemes available now including interest only, drawdown & voluntary repayment schemes, the equity release market has never been so competitive.

 

So why have Aviva aggressively reduced their interest rates?

Word has it there are new lenders set to enter the equity release marketplace. With new names entering the market such as L&G and Santander, plus More2life have new funding available, Aviva are sure to find new competitors in their space. Perhaps they are trying to gather as much momentum & market share as possible now before they come under pressure?

 

We have already seen unprecedented movements in equity release interest rates so early in 2015. More2life’s Enhanced Lifetime Mortgage & Interest Choice plans have seen rate reductions, followed by Stonehaven’s Interest Select range in response to keep their market position above More2life. Whatever equity release 2015 has to hold its going to be exciting time and one for any future lifetime mortgage customer can benefit from with the lowest equity release interest rates ever seen.

 

Should you wish to request an Aviva Flexible Lifetime Mortgage quote & find out how low your equity release interest rate could go, please contact Mark Gregory on Freephone 0800 783 9652 or email me at mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

Further information on equity release –

 

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How to Use Equity Release Instead of Selling Your House

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

The current financial climate is quite simply awful for many people. Particularly, the retired & elderly are really struggling to make ends meet. Many retired people who left their work before the crisis hit have had to watch in horror as a lot of the value they had expected to retire on has been wiped away by stockmarkets & low interest rates with the banks & building societies. Sometimes, what is left in the pension isn’t enough, and their reaction is that they should sell their house in order to ensure a comfortable retirement.

 

However, with equity release plans, this might not necessarily be required. Instead of selling the family home, why not release equity to cover the short term finances. We maybe only talking a small sum to tie you over until prospects improve. Therefore, for the sake of selling in a depressed property market, bide your time & think carefully about your options available. Equity release schemes can play an important role here.

 

Equity release schemes are form of mortgage that enables people over age 55 to release locked up equity in their main residence. The typical and most commonly thought of equity release schemes are actually called lifetime mortgages. Lifetime mortgages are available to those over 55, and have specific characteristics which reflect this unique stage in life.

 

Equity release schemes are like normal mortgages in that they are associated money & a property. However, where most mortgages are used to purchase the property over an extended period of time, equity release mortgages are new mortgages placed on properties which already have or virtually paid off the mortgage. The result is that while the property now has some debt associated with it, the value that is unlocked can be used for large scale projects or purchases, supplement pensions or more commonly home improvements.

 

The other difference between an equity release lifetime mortgage and a normal mortgage is that with an equity release mortgage the assumption is that the balance will be paid off when the person who holds the plan sells the asset or as a part of the inheritance estate. This is why the over 55 age restriction on equity release schemes is so important. These financial products are designed to run for the rest of one’s life, so there is no call upon the repayment of the capital until death or moving into long term care.

 

Many retired people watched the drop in markets sweep billions from the values of the pension funds, and therefore pushing significant financial pressure inwardly. It is easy to see how the equity release mortgage would be an excellent option for retired people who are struggling either for income or a capital lump sum. Where they were potentially considering having to sell the family home or go back to work, many retired people can supplement their pensions with the value withdrawn via an equity release  scheme.

 

As lifetime mortgage & home reversion plans are now members of SHIP, you always have the option of repaying the scheme during your lifetime. However, be wary of potential early repayment charges which some gilt related schemes can significantly impose. One way providers can recover their costs is through these means.

 

Often people think that equity release is tantamount to putting debts on to the next generation. What is important to keep in mind that with lifetime mortgages the ownership of the property stays in the hands of the plan owner, just like a regular mortgage. In fact, usually the biggest difference between a normal mortgage and an equity release mortgage is that the terms of the equity release plan are more favourable as they consider the age of the owner of the plan, and factor that into the calculations.

 

This means that those who inherit the property may also inherit the debt, but they now have the option to decide if they want to keep the property with a normal mortgage, or sell the asset and recover the rest of the equity. These are options which can be passed onward in an estate, making it easier for the family to make decisions which are appropriate for them.

 

Selling one’s house is an emotive issue & needs to be discussed with those closest to you. Next step would be to discuss whether equity release schemes are a viable option & this is where Equity Release Supermarket can use their considerable experience & knowledge to help.

For an impartial & free initial consultation call Mark on 0800 678 5159 who can offer words of advice. Alternatively,in confidence email mark@equityreleasesupermarket with any questions you may have.

 

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

 

Important Factors You Should Consider Before Opting For Equity Release

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Inadequate pension amounts and rising living costs have made many people look for alternatives to their retirement schemes in order to live comfortably. Due to this, an increasing number of pensioners are considering equity release to improve their finances during their retirement years. Equity release consists of releasing part of the value of a home to gain financial benefit. If you are considering this option, here are some things you should know.

 

Choice of payment – The most common equity release product available is a Lifetime Mortgage. These provide homeowners with a lump-sum amount of money depending on the value of the property and the age of homeowner. Apart from this method, homeowners can also choose from a minimum amount at the outset which is followed by a drawdown facility, a single lump sum and a lump sum along with an ongoing monthly amount.

 

Interest rates – Homeowners who opt for equity release should know that all lifetime mortgages include interest to the borrowed amount. This is for life and at a fixed rate of interest. The amount accumulates eventually, until the outstanding balance can be repaid. This is done either when the last surviving applicant passes away, moves into a long term care facility or when the house is sold.

As equity release is an important decision, it is best to have some legal help when opting for it. This will ensure you get the most out of the process.

 

Equity Release Supermarket can advise on suitable solicitors for the processing of your application. Goldsmith Williams Solicitors have a fixed rate agreement with ourselves at £295 + VAT & disbursements.

 

AVIVA Equity Release – Latest Changes To Interest Rates & Lending Limits

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

This article provides information on the latest interest rates & changes that Aviva are making to their product range.

 

With the current shortage of equity release lenders, additional pressures are mounting on the remaining companies providing equity release schemes.

These lenders are now experiencing larger than normal business volumes as the number of providers has dwindled over the past 12 months. As a consequence some servicing issues are of concern, of which the biggest provider is now addressing.

 

Of these equity release companies; Aviva  are the first to change their lending criteria & this post provides details of this in advance.

 

Come the 14th June, Aviva will be increasing their interest rates & lowering their loan-to-values (LTV) & details of these changes are detailed later in this article.

This is a negative step for the market given that Aviva’s Maximum Cash Release plan offers the highest cash release in the lifetime mortgage market at present.

Therefore, clients looking for financial relief by releasing the maximum possible after this date now have a reduced cash sum available. Couple this with Aviva’s recent reduction in loan-to-values on flats & maisonette’s & there is a definite swing away from higher loan values.

 

Aviva will now only lend on 75% of property values on flats & maisonette’s, which is a dramatic move away from lending on these abodes. Couple this with the reductions in loan-to-values which are being announced on the 14th June, means a significant shift in their lending criteria.

This will affect in particular clients looking at debt consolidation or potential other requirements that demand the maximum possible.

 

Equity Release Supermarket  as independent financial advisers have witnessed firsthand the demand for larger advances this year alone. Predominantly, this has been for debt consolidation purposes whereby clients in retirement are now experiencing income shortfall issues as their investment returns have fallen significantly.

This has resulted in financial pressures meeting these monthly liabilities including mortgage payments, personal loans or more commonly, credit card debts.

 

Nevertheless, there are fresh signs within the market indicating that external forces are construing to develop new plans & ideas to drive this stagnant market forward.

We heard last week that More2 Life is introducing an impaired life roll-up equity release scheme. This is welcoming news for the market & hopefully the sign of things to come.

In the meantime the current crop of lenders can dictate in a market having little competition from other providers.

 

Part of the result of this is Aviva’s impending equity release scheme changes.

 

Aviva have announced an increase of 0.1% to the interest rates for new business on the Lifestyle Flexible Option, Lifestyle Lump Sum and Lifestyle Lump Sum Max.

Equity Release Supermarket receive an exclusive interest rate lower than that offered directly by Aviva themselves.

 

The new Aviva interest rates wef 14th June are therefore 6.70%, 6.55% & 7.40% respectively. On paper this doesn’t represent a large percentage increase; however given the roll-up nature of these products, this will result in £1000’s difference in the future balance.

 

Additionally, Aviva equity release are reducing the loan-to-values on the Lifestyle Lump Sum Max by 2% for customers aged 60 or below, and by 1% for those over 60.

Even with this decrease, they currently still offer the best LTV scale in the market on all properties (apart from flats & maisonettes).

 

The LTV rates for the Lifestyle Flexible Option and Lifestyle Lump Sum will stay the same.

 

Example LTV’s on the Lifestyle Lump Sum Max (single borrower) are now: –

Age 55        –           20.5%

Age 60        –           25.5%

Age 6          –           30%

Age 70        –           36%

Age 75        –           41%

Finally, there are transitional arrangements in place which anyone considering the Aviva equity release schemes should be aware of;

 

Applications on the Lifestyle Flexible Option, Lifestyle Lump Sum and Lifestyle Lump Sum Max dated prior to 14th June and received by the 18th June will receive the old interest rates. Also, any Lifestyle Lump Sum Max applications will be on the old LTV scale.

 

Applications on the Lifestyle Flexible Option, Lifestyle Lump Sum and Lifestyle Lump Sum Max dated before 14th June and received after 18th June will receive the new interest rate. Lifestyle Lump Sum Max applications will be on the new LTV scale.

 

Applications dated after 14th June will receive the new interest rates. Lifestyle Lump Sum Max applications will be based on the new LTV scale.

 

To request an Aviva illustration or further advice on any of the issues discussed above, please contact Mark Gregory on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

 
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