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Posts Tagged ‘Long Term Care’

Weigh Up the Alternatives First – Equity Release Isn’t Always the Answer to Funding Long Term Care Costs

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Long Term Care SolutionsWith long term care becoming increasingly topical, Equity Release Supermarket are encountering many enquiries where children & attorneys are considering equity release as a possible solution to solving this ageing dilemma. However, as a company we do not automatically assume that equity release is the only answer; there are more alternatives.

 

It is therefore always advisable to seek long term care advice from a specialist who can advise on all aspects of retirement planning to ensure all avenues are explored. This would include claiming any state benefits due, retirement annuities, care fees plans & equity release schemes.

 

The following live case study illustrates how one of my clients was in such a situation & was looking to release equity from their main residence. It explains how I researched & recommended the best long term care plan for their particular needs after exploring & discussing with them all possible solutions…

 

Case Background

I was contacted by a lady whose father – Peter was suffering from Alzheimers disease. Her mother Mary, who was in her 80’s, lived in the bungalow that they jointly owned, but because she suffered from mobility problems, she was unable to care for Peter. She had reluctantly made the difficult decision that Peter would be better cared for in a specialist Care Home.

 

Funding Long Term Care Shortfalls

At the time I spoke to Mary and her daughter, Peter had been living in a very nice Care Home for two years and was settled there. He was aged 86 and the fees for his care were £40,904 per year, the amount of his income that could be used to help fund this cost was £13,345 per year.

The shortfall between Peter’s income and the cost of his care therefore amounted to £27,559 and this shortfall was being paid from the capital that Peter and Mary had in their savings. At the time I spoke with the family, their savings totalled £135,000.

 

Although this amount would seem to be sufficient to fund the present shortfall in the cost of Peters care for nearly another five years, anything that Mary might need outside her normal day to day expenditure would also have to come out of it. This therefore left them in a financial dilemma that needed considering now, before the situation worsened & a long term care plan of action was to be put in place immediately.

 

The bungalow, for instance, badly needed decorating and Mary had not had a holiday for nearly five years. There was also the fact that Long Term Care Fees normally increase by between 3% and 5% per year. All of this needed to be met from this capital and Mary had started to worry that all their capital would be used up very soon, this worry was beginning to affect her health since she was not sleeping very well.

 

Is Equity Release the Solution?

Mary and her daughter had initially thought that taking out an equity release plan may be the only option open to them and this was when they contacted me for advice. They felt that by releasing equity from the property now, instead of using the savings would help preserve the capital into the future. However, after discussing the effect of roll-up interest & the fact that other retirement solutions existed they were prepared to sit down with me & conduct a thorough factfind exercise so I could fully analyse their situation.

 

Benefits of Seeking Independent Long Term Care Advice

Being a SOLLA accredited independent equity release adviser, I have the benefit of being FCA authorised to specialise in long term care, equity release plans, investments & annuities. Whereas many equity release advisers can only provide advice on equity release, whenever ANY advice is being given with regards to using it to solve long term care planning, it should always be referred to a long term care specialist such as myself who has be trained to provide guidance on such matters. We can consider ALL options available, not just equity release which may not always be the best solution.

 

The Long Term Care Solutions

After making an assessment of their situation I looked at the options that were available to them.

 

  1. The first option we looked at was to continue to meet the shortfall from the savings of £135,000. This meant that after annual increases in the cost of Peters care and looking after any needs that Mary might have, such as decorating and holidays, the capital would probably last for about another three or four years. After this period they would be reliant on Local Authority funding. Because the cost of the Care Home that Peter was in was more expensive than the Local Authority funding level, this may have meant Peter moving to a cheaper Care Home. Because he was settled and happy where he was, and the family was happy with the care he was receiving, they did not want this to happen.
  1. The second option was to look at investing the capital in order to obtain an income from the return. An optimistic return on the capital would be about 4% and this would provide an income of £5,400 per year. This would obviously not meet the shortfall of £27,559 and not entirely solve the long term care cost shortfall.
  1. The third option was to purchase a ‘Care Fees Plan’, otherwise known as an Immediate Needs Annuity. After obtaining the necessary medical reports from Peters Care Home and his GP, we received illustrations of the cost of these plans from the relevant providers. By investing a capital sum with the annuity provider, they would then provide a lifetime income payable to either the planholder or care home to cover care fees due.

 

The results were very pleasing. For a lump sum premium of £106,000 a Care Fees Plan could be purchased that would provide Peter with an income of £27,599 per annum for the rest of his life. The income would also rise by 5% each year in order to help cover any increases in the cost of his care. Instead of the income being paid to Peter so his Attorney could then pay his Long Term Care Fees, it was arranged to be paid directly to the Care Home. Arranged in this way, it gave the added bonus that the income would be paid tax free, thereby going further towards meeting the care costs payable.

 

The outcome of funding the cost of Peters care in this way meant that:

  • The cost of Peters care would be met for the rest of his life, regardless of how long that was.
  • The income of £27,599 would increase by 5% compound each year.
  • £29,000 of their capital had been protected for Marys benefit.
  • It had safeguarded the family home to be passed to their daughter.
  • The family had been provided with peace of mind.
  • Equity release is still an option if necessary in the future should circumstances dictate.

 

If you wish to discuss any aspects of this case study or need long term care advice from a SOLLA accredited adviser, please either email me – peter@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk or telephone 07828 179707. I look forward to hearing from you.

How Equity Release and Power of Attorney Can Work In Tandem

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Equity Release Using an Enduring Power of AttorneyHere at Equity Release Supermarket we occasional experience children and attorney’s contacting us asking whether they can take out equity release on behalf of someone they hold an Enduring or Lasting Power of Attorney over? The answer is yes.

 

However, there are systems in place from equity release companies to protect the homeowner and ensure that any release of equity is being utilised for the correct reasons and correct legally. Looking after someone else’s affairs financially is a big responsibility, not only in looking after the homeowner, but also the responsibility to their beneficiaries.

 

Being an independent equity release adviser with Equity Release Supermarket, I recently dealt with an Enduring Power of Attorney case which was being utilised to meet ongoing long term care costs that were being provided to enable the homeowner to remain in her home. The following case study illustrates the steps involved in helping the attorney take equity release on behalf of someone they were looking after, due to the onset of Alzheimer’s and the inability for the homeowner to contract themselves.

 

 

Equity Release & Power of Attorney Case Study

Initially, I had a call from a solicitor who held an Enduring Power of Attorney over a frail lady in her late 80’s. The lady had nominated the solicitor to be Power of Attorney over 15 years ago as the only family she had was a son living abroad. The solicitor contacted me as the lady had now developed Alzheimer’s and needed 24 hours a day care and was concerned that the lady was about to lose her home and be forced into a care home.

 

The homeowner was unable to live on her own and the cost of paying for full time carers to stay in the property was costing over £2,500 per month. Due to the ongoing nature of these costs and the fact her income was insufficient to cover much of these expenses, her savings were rapidly reducing and apart from the bungalow, she had no other assets. The attorney, who was also the solicitor had looked into all other options including help from the state, alas none were available.

 

Additionally, moving home was not a viable option due to the lady’s poor health and she did not want the upset of leaving her bungalow of 20 years and she still had something recognisable to her which was her Labrador. Therefore, with only £15,000 left in savings, time was running out to find a solution as to how to finance the remainder of her years.

 

The Equity Release Advice Process

I basically dealt with the solicitor as if they were my client taking out the equity release scheme. After taking suitable identification for both the homeowner & the attorney I was able to gather the background to the older lady’s finances. This gave me an insight as to how much was required monthly in order to meet the ongoing long term care costs. My job then was find a suitable equity release scheme that would fulfil the needs of maintaining the payments for the long term care for the first 12 months and then beyond.

 

 

After conducting my initial equity release research I advised that a guaranteed lifetime mortgage drawdown schLiverpool Victoria Equity Releaseeme was the best option. One particular lifetime mortgage meeting these requirements was from Liverpool Victoria. LV= offer an equity release scheme with a guaranteed drawdown facility, so no matter what happens in the next 15 years money can still be taken from the creation of a cash reserve facility, to guarantee money for future care costs would be available.

 

 

This is the advantage of taking completely independent equity release advice as we can research the whole of the marketplace to find the correct scheme to fit with clients individual circumstances. The LV= Flexible Lifetime Mortgage scheme ticked all the right boxes to meet the Attorney’s requirements as a concern of hers was that money would be need to be guaranteed in the future to guarantee the future of her care.

 

The next step to save time & possible heartbreak later was to check the legal paperwork of the Enduring Power of Attorney was suitable from the lenders perspective. Therefore, I sent a copy of the Enduring Power of Attorney document to LV= legal department who checked over & made sure it was registered with the Court of Protection. It was & met their requirements which enabled me to pass on the good news to the solicitor which gave the green light to continue the process to application.

 

Not only were LV= happy that the Power of Attorney was registered with the court of protection, but also that there was no conflict of interest between the attorney and the homeowner with the Alzheimer’s. The only other concern for LV= was that there was full time carers living in the property, but who rotated their shifts on a weekly basis. The carers were employed by an agency and after seeing a copy of the agency employment agreement, LV= were happy to proceed as long as the agency would sign a letter to state that upon the death of the homeowner they would cease to remain in the property. This they had no issue agreeing to.

 

Why Should Equity Release Clients Take out a Power of Attorney?

I always recommend Lasting Power of Attorney to my clients (changed from Enduring Power of Attorney in 2007) as you can nominate someone you trust; family member, friend or solicitor to make decisions on your behalf if needed in the future. However, most people think they will never need it and do not want to think about it is reassuring to know as in the above case that your best interests are being looked after by someone that you trust.

 

There are two elements to this in England and Wales – the Property and Financial Affairs & the Health and Welfare. This enables attorneys to provide cover for permanent or temporary control of finances and also medical treatment consent. The attorney also has the power to make the decision as to whether the homeowner should be taken into care, or stay in own home & be looked after there.

 

It is not compulsory with equity release, but is recommended that a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is taken out, so if you get to a stage either through Alzheimer’s or any other reason if you cannot make financial or medical decisions then someone you trust can be nominated on your behalf to make decisions for you. LPA’s can even be used on a temporary basis where then can be utilised if a situation arises and you are unable to sign documents due to a temporary event such as illness, holiday or even broken wrist!

 

Summary

In the above equity release case the advantage of having Power of Attorney in place ultimately enabled the lady to stay in her own home in the first instance and with a guaranteed lifetime mortgage drawdown scheme from LV= it enabled her to stay in her own home for the foreseeable future. This would be via an initial lump sum covering the first 12 months costs, with the option if still required a cash drawdown facility, sufficient to cover a further two years costs, subject to any changes.

 

My name is Glen Pike & I am a specialist in equity release case studies such as this involving Power of Attorneys.

 

If you have a similar decision to make on behalf of a parent, or someone close to you and would like a free initial equity release consultation, please contact me on 07510 835613 or email glen@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

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

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

Bank of Mum & Dad

 

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

 

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

 

First some FACTS:

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

What is equity release?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Which equity release schemes can help 1st time buyers?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

NEW -Voluntary partial repayment plans

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

 

How is the Bank of Mum & Dad protected?

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

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

 

Benefits of using Equity Release

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Next Steps…

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

 

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

Why London Housing Statistics show Equity Release on the Agenda

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

London Equity ReleaseAnytime housing values begin to increase, it is time to assess the home buying situation. Retirement has been a topic of some concern for those heading into their 60s. In fact, over 55s are starting to realise while they have worked hard, they may not have enough in their pension portfolio to live on. The reason is all down to living longer – longevity. The average life is no longer to 70, but closer to 90 for females. Even in London families are cash poor, but property rich. Take advantage of new housing statistics and use a UK equity release calculator to determine if there is an equity release solution for you. London equity release schemes are being called upon because of their ability to help those who need cash, but own large amounts of equity in their property.

 

Equity Release Defined

Equity releases most popular form is the lifetime mortgage. This mortgage comes in various guises and can either come with or without a method of monthly repayment until the property is sold, either because the homeowners move, pass away or end up in long term care. The mortgage can be taken out from the age of 55. These lifetime mortgages do collect interest based on a fixed APR that adds up each year until the mortgage is repaid.

 

The London Housing Market

London housing prices have increased by 17.7 per cent in the last year. New and pre-owned homes in London are continuing to increase rather quickly. While housing prices are increasing, mortgage interest rates have actually decreased in the last few years, however storm clouds are on the horizon with news that early 2015 could see an interest rate rise. The monthly cost even on equity release is lower than in previous years. Now with lifetime mortgages it is true you do not make a monthly repayment; however, it is important to use an equity release calculator to compare the cost of your lifetime product against a standard mortgage.

 

By comparing the two you can determine if the low monthly cost stacks up against the equity lifetime release. Standard mortgages in London offer a loan to value of 75 per cent, meaning the other 25 per cent has to be a down payment for the purchase of the property. Even the LTV has been increasing over the last few years and markedly in the last few months. What this means for lifetime equity release is a higher percentage of lump sum tax free cash available for homeowners.

 

The increase of housing prices means more value is in the home, thus more money can be released with any form of available equity release product. Even though there is a potential for more money to be available, it does not mean all homeowners will take the larger lump sum. It is just important to know it is available and there as a back-up should anything untoward happen.

 

Agenda – Lifetime Mortgage

Lifetime mortgages are defined and the London housing sector is ripe for the picking. You have an idea of the solution, but why might lifetime mortgages continue to rise in popularity even in the Big Smoke?

 

Younger generations tend to spend more during an average week than older generations, say those in their 80s. Many retirees are in their 60s, which means they are still spending money as if they were working.

 

If you add the expenditures that occur each week to the recession issues of the past couple of years, there is a detriment to retirement funds for most individuals, even those in London. Especially people living in London, considering the expense of daily living without being overly effusive with spending.

 

Housing costs to run a large home, food purchases, travel, and entertainment are all going to be more in the capital city. As retirement pensions and other retirement investments lost a great deal with stock market troubles, it has left many retirees without enough funds to sustain their retirement life.

 

More so has been the fundamental flaw in endowment mortgage schemes whereby large shortfall are being evidenced upon maturity of the endowment plan. This has left many London homeowners with shortfalls on the repayment of their interest only mortgage. Therefore, London equity release schemes have come to fruition with the likes Of Stonehaven, more2life & Hodge Lifetime whom can provide an escape route via remortgaging onto their London lifetime mortgage schemes.

 

It puts lifetime mortgages on the agenda because they are a way to gain cash for mortgage repayments, general living, extravagant holidays, and any other type of entertainment retirees might wish to enjoy. The cash poor situation suddenly becomes obsolete as the property rich gain a little of that hard earned money back to use as they grow older.

 

Inheritance Factors are Imperative

As you consider whether a lifetime mortgage is right for you, it is imperative to think about inheritance, especially with the associated property values in London borough’s. A large estate when provided to family all at once is subject to inheritance tax over & above the £325,000 allowance for each party. This tax can be so large that it wipes out the entire inheritance. It is the reason those with a huge estate set up trusts and other tax planning instruments which can alleviate some of the IHT burden.

 

A lifetime mortgage can work in one of two ways, both as detrimental to any inheritance you may want to leave behind, but can also be used as a successful vehicle for mitigating IHT issues. Even in London, equity release can threaten an inheritance depending on the type of loan. For instance, the roll-up lifetime mortgage has the interest compounding as long as the mortgage is outstanding. On the other hand it is an opportunity to disperse inheritance without fear of taxes. By using a UK equity release calculator, can help you calculate the percentage of loan to leave as an inheritance.

 

Before entering into any equity release contract, you must seek independent equity release advice from a reputable company. For a full list of equity release brokers visit the Equity Release Council website, where using a postcode search can identify a London equity release brokerage near to you.

Why Now Might Prove to Be a Good Time to Take Out an Equity Release Plan: Given the Competitiveness of the Market

Monday, March 12th, 2012

Equity release schemes and equity release remortgage deals allow you to extract the equity tied up within the bricks & mortar of your home. The tax free cash is withdrawn usually by a lump sum or in the form of monthly income. This is a type of loan is for property owners over the age of 55 and is one of the best ways for such people & property owners to borrow money. Equity release plans typically do not need to be paid back until the sale of the home, or the borrower has died or gone into long term care.

 

Why have equity release schemes become so popular?

Homeowners opt for equity release plans for many reasons & their uses have extended beyond their original concept. Gone is the original ideology that equity release schemes would pay for pensioners essential living demands. Instead the flexibility & uses of equity release schemes have diversified into areas such as inheritance tax planning, moving home & many more besides.

They may have grandchildren entering university, and education tuition fees to pay; they may want to travel the world to meet distant relatives or loved ones; purchase a new car that maybe more economically friendly & cost saving; they may have a child that is soon to wed & needs a deposit for that first step on the property ladder; or they may want to consolidate their debts such as mortgage, loan & credit cards in order to free up & release some disposable income. These are all wonderful & purposeful reasons to choose an equity release mortgage. At the end of the day you just want to retire and relax  throughout the longest holiday of your life.

 

How to Compare Equity Release Deals

There are various providers and independent specialists and a variety of equity release remortgage deals available on the market. In the tough economic times, there are few property owners that would not benefit from an equity release deal; however many homeowners are unaware that they have a solution to their problems with an equity release loan. It is important for the retirees to understand how these UK equity release plans work and how to shop around and compare all lifetime mortgages & home reversion schemes to find the best deal available on the market.

The most convenient means to compare equity release deals is on the World Wide Web or more commonly termed – the Internet. There are many equity release providers and schemes that operate home equity loans. These include schemes such as roll-up lifetime mortgages that allow you to extract an initial lump sum with the interest being charged, & compounded onto the previous year’s balance. The flexible & now more popular scheme is the drawdown lifetime mortgage that allows you to take a smaller initial lump sum that is agreed upon at commencement of the loan and then further amounts as you wish. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.

When you compare equity release, you should work with a company that offers advice and guidance and one that has the contacts in the industry to present you with the best deals available on the market. Equity Release Supermarket has a comparison table that identifies the best interest rates, cashback deals & free valuations for you. Click here to visit the compare deals table.

 

All Equity Release Supermarket financial advisers are independent & FSA trained and accredited and it is essential that the deal that you opt for meets the FSA standards and SHIP regulations. This will ensure that you have a deal that is safe and fair.

 

Why Now Might Prove to Be a Good Time to Take Out an Equity Release Policy

A combination of the current crop of exclusives has provided a cheaper route to market for many new equity release applications. However, this is not the only reason for the equity release industry being more confident these days.

A recent spate of rate reductions for the 3 major equity release companies has resulted in some of the lowest interest rates for the past 5 years. Aviva’s recent reduction on its Lifetime Flexible drawdown plan has scuppered plans for Just Retirement to be the market leader. In fact Just Retirement has now thrown in the towel in its quest to become the cheapest lifetime drawdown scheme currently available & is now targeting other areas for domination.

 

 

The current exclusive Aviva equity release offered by Equity Release Supermarket is as follows: –

Product              –        Aviva Lifestyle Flexi Plan

Interest rate      –        5.92% fixed for life

Offers                 –        Free Valuation  PLUS £500 cashback on completion

 

If you wish to take advantage of this Aviva deal then request a quote  or contact the Equity Release Supermarket team on 0800 678 5159 where one of our advisers will be happy to assist.

 

The Wonderful Benefits Offered By Equity Release

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Equity release is probably one of the best ways to gain income or capital that has been locked in a home. This process is ideal for anyone who owns their own property. It can be carried out in two main ways. One method is through home reversion which includes selling some of your property to free up valuable funds. The other method is through a lifetime mortgage where a loan secured on your home is made by the lender.

Regardless of which method you choose, equity release can offer many benefits.

 

Keep your home

In previous years, downsizing could mean having to move out of your home and start all over again. However, this is not the case with equity release. This lifetime mortgage scheme allows you to keep your home, which is possibly one of the best benefits. You are able to carry on living in your property with no monthly mortgage payments, thus not affecting your financial stability. The equity release scheme is eventually repaid from the proceeds of the sale of your property. This event is usually upon death or moving into long term care.

However, if the beneficiaries can come up with their own funds in order to repay the lender then theoretically they can then take possession of their parents property. This could be valuable for family reasons, particularly if they wish to use the parents home as their new main residence due to size. It could also be repaid by the children for investment purposes should they wish to rent out the property, thereby creating an additional income source to assist them financially.

 

Enjoy a better life

Equity release will give you a good source of income or capital that can be used to make your retirement years more comfortable. This can be used to buy a holiday home or even for taking regular holidays overseas. Besides these, the tax free cash gained from equity release can also be used for meeting more important needs like home renovations or buying a new car.

Under most circumstances, equity release provides a guaranteed cash flow throughout your life. One of the best things about this kind of income is that it is usually free of tax so you can fully enjoy the fruits of your own hard work.

 

For a list of valuable reasons to generate capital or income in retirement click here to visit the Equity Release Supermarket website.

Alternatively contact the Equity Release team on freephone 0800 678 5159.

 

Equity Release Schemes – The Main Types of Lifetime Mortgages

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Would you like to have a secure and enjoyable retirement?

 

If your answer is yes, then an increasingly effective option for the over 55’s is using equity release schemes.

We all have different financial needs & the more recently developed equity release schemes are designed to meet these requirements. These schemes are incorporated within the lifetime mortgage schemes and reversion plan product range.

From this selection the roll-up lifetime mortgage scheme is preferred by the majority of people.

A lifetime mortgage scheme is specially designed for homeowners who are entering retirement and want to release equity from their home as a secured loan. Under this equity release scheme, the repayment takes place on death or the client moving into long term care.

Once you have opted for this scheme, you can continue living in the same residence for the rest of your life, even if the equity release balance become more than the value of the house. This is due to the inclusion, at no extra cost, of the no negative equity guarantee. This ensures that no debt, over & above the property value can be passed onto the beneficiaries.

Reassurance is therefore given to the children that they cannot incur debt by the actions of their parents.

This rule is a condition of all lenders that are members of the equity release trade body – SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans) who provide consumer protection in the equity release marketplace.

 

In Summary

A lifetime mortgage scheme can divided into the following types.

  • Roll-up lifetime mortgage
  • Fixed payment lifetime mortgage
  • Interest-only lifetime mortgage

 

Roll-up lifetime mortgage – Under this kind of scheme, you do not have to pay any interest or repayments for rest of your life. The interests will be compunded yearly onto your actual loan amount and it will be paid when the home is sold on death or moving into long term care.

 

Fixed repayment lifetime mortgage – In this scheme, there is no interest added to the actual amount but you have to payback a fixed amount when your home is sold. The scheme remains the same even if you sell your home after six months or 25 years, hence it is always important you receive independent equity release advice. This equity release is currently offered by Just Retirement.

The maximum charge that can be secured is 75% of the property value. The value of the overall facility is determined by several factors including your ge, sex, property value & your health & lifestyle situation. Click here to request further details on this unique equity release scheme.

 

Interest-only lifetime mortgage – People who do not want the build up & compounding of interest can choose to make monthly repayments of interest only. Using this method, no interest is added onto your main loan as any interest generated is repaid back on a monthly basis.

Before choosing a type of lifetime mortgage, you must consider your post-retirement income and what your needs will be.

 

To discuss any of the above issues please contact Mark Gregory on 0800 678 5159 or visit the Equity Release Supermarket website.

 

Equity Release Early Repayment Charges – The Truth

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Anyone considering taking out equity release  has many choices to make.

 

One of the biggest & most expensive if not advised correctly could be on early repayment of an equity release scheme .

However, before we delve into the main differences between current equity release schemes we briefly look at why early repayment charges exist & how they can arise.

 

Primarily, equity release is designed to run for the rest of your life.

 

There is no fixed term & the scheme will continue to run until the second person has died or moved into care.

At that point the property is usually sold, with the equity release provider being repaid first from the proceeds & any remaining balance is passed into their estate.

 

With the earliest age of starting one of these schemes being 55, the total term could well be in excess of 30 years. For this reason lenders hedge their bets in order to recover any potential early repayment which may cost them significantly.

 

Obviously life expectancy for everyone differs.

 

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) use average life expectancy data in order to provide the basis of a lenders key facts illustration (quote).

It is with this same information that lenders will also formulate their early repayment charge structure.

We can relate such charges with a conventional mortgage, whereby upon early repayment within a specified term the borrower will incur an early repayment charge.

 

So, upon what circumstances would an early repayment charge exist?

 

This could be for a number of reasons: –

 

1.       Sale of property

2.       Inheritance

3.       Death

4.       Moving into long term care

 

However, not all the aforementioned would incur a penalty upon early repayment.

Equity release providers would not invoke a penalty on death or moving into long term care. Additionally, where some lenders invoke a charge for a set period of time, once this term has expired there would be no penalty thereafter.

However, there would potentially be a penalty if the property was sold during the lifetime of the owner for example if an inheritance was received or downsizing occurred & the scheme was repaid as a consequence.

 

In addition to the early repayment charge the lender could also levy an administration fee which can vary from zero to £300.

 

How do lenders calculate the early repayment charge & how much can it be?

 

The answer to this varies significantly & this can be evidence with the following simplified table: –

 

Lender

Term

Basis

Maximum Charge

Aviva Remainder of the plan term Charge linked to performance of gilts. Maximum 25% initial advance
Hodge Lifetime 10 Years Percentage penalty based number of years 5%
Just Retirement Remainder of the plan term Depends on the FTSE UK gilt yield Maximum 20% of total advances
LV= 10 Years Percentage penalty based number of years 5% yrs 1 to 5, 3% yrs 6 to 10

 

As you can see, all equity release schemes have the inclusion early repayment charges & if you are considering early repayment it maybe a case of damage limitation or manipulation of repayment date that could avoid potential penalties.

From experience, this aspect of equity release penalties I will cover in a separate article to follow & can provide advice on methods of alleviating these penalties from lender to lender.

 
This will also include topics such as: –

  • Options on downsizing
  • Gilt rates  & where to find current gilt yields
  • Information on repayment to existing equity release borrowers who are looking for additional funds or achieve a lower interest rate
  • Possible avoidance of early repayment charges – lender by lender

 

If you have any questions or require further information on the subject of equity release early repayment charges, please email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk or contact Mark on freephone 0800 678 5159.

 

Equity Release – Can it Be Used As a Means Of Bridging Finance?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

The industry definition of an equity release scheme is an over 55’s mortgage, albeit with no monthly repayments & finally settled on death or moving into long term care.

 

It is now becoming more apparent that whereas equity release was once considered a lifetime mortgage, people ‘temporarily’ have the opportunity to take advantage of one of a providers’ shortcomings in its plan features.

 

As equity release has been designed to run for the rest of the person’s life, lenders have always seeked to include potentially heavy early repayment charges, should the equity release scheme be redeemed early.

 

This penalty could be either linked to the change in government gilt rates, expire after a set number of years or as we shall discuss; link to the Bank of England base rate. It is this feature that has provided a window of opportunity should people over 55 require short term borrowing facilities.

 

Experience has recently shown that retired clients are now struggling in retirement; income from investments has fallen, annuity rates are not favourable & pensions are falling in popularity with more reliance on fund performance & contributions than defined benefit schemes.

 

Increasingly more debt is also evident in this age group & control of finances is becoming more difficult to manage in the present economic climate, credit cards & loans seeming the preferred choice. Nevertheless, there are options available that can resolve these issues – part time work is becoming more apparent to increase retired incomes. Better management of debts & more consumer information being available as the silver surfers become more online savvy.

 

Advice on the suitability of equity release schemes will primarily discuss all these options & more. Should none of the alternatives be suitable from the client’s point of view, then at this point, equity release can be considered as a last resort.

However, another one of these options would be downsizing. This would involve the emotive issue of selling a property that may have been a family dwelling for a generation. However, in order to raise the necessary funds required this may be the correct solution. Unfortunately, this option may not provide an immediate resolution.

 

House sales are eventually beginning to rise, however this is marginal at present & for someone who requires funds as soon as possible, today’s marketplace could prove an obstacle.

 

But all is not lost – & this is where a temporary bridging facility is available & can be provided by a current equity release provider. Subject to eligibility, the Prudential’s equity release schemes can meet this objective. By taking equity release now with Prudential you would be benefiting from their link with the Bank of England base rate & early repayment charges.

 

In summary, the Prudential equity release schemes will only levy a penalty should the Bank of England base rate fall from inception to the time of repayment. With this rate at an unprecedented low rate of only currently 0.5%, it is highly unlikely (but not impossible) that the rate would be lower than 0.5% in the future. It can therefore be safely assumed that if either of the Prudential’s equity release plans are taken out, whether it be their single lump sum product or innovative increasing cash reserve plan, NO early repayment charge would apply.

 

Therefore, this can be great news therefore for people who have debt issues or need access to short term funds & not have it affect their tight budgetary constraints. With no monthly repayments required, clients can raise funds this year & after a 12 month period could repay in full or partially, with only a deeds release fee of £105 being levied. This could tie in conveniently with the property market improving around this period of time.

With Prudential equity release interest rates currently as low as 6.3%, this is an excellent time to consider this form of borrowing for eligible people over age 55. So while the Bank of England base rates remains at just 0.5% it would be advisable to consider this equity release product as a means of short term borrowing or bridging finance, depending on requirements.

 

In addition to this good news, Equity Release Supermarket have an exclusive offer from Prudential until 31st December 2009. We are able to offer clients applying for the Prudential’s Increasing Cash Reserve plan a free valuation & £300 cashback on completion. So all’s not so gloomy in the equity release market as some would suggest.

 

If you require further information on these topics please contact Mark Gregory on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 
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