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Stonehaven Equity Release Re-Launch With 8 Year Fixed Early Repayment Charges

Monday, March 16th, 2015

Stonehaven Equity Release schemesWhen many equity release providers are competing directly in using their lifetime mortgage interest rates, Stonehaven have decided to compete in a different field by taking the bold step of moving away from Gilt-based early repayment charges (ERC’s) & introducing a fixed penalty basis covering the first eight years of the equity release loan.

With effect from 16th March 2015, Stonehaven will move its whole lump sum & interest only lifetime mortgage range of plans over to an 8 year fixed early repayment charge of 5% in the first 5 years, 3% in years 6-8 and none in the 9th year & thereafter.

 

Background to Equity Release Early Repayment Charges

Due to the nature of the product – ‘Lifetime’ Mortgage, the plans have been designed to run for the rest of the homeowners life. This can create uneasiness for some people taking out equity release schemes in retirement as they cannot always say with certainty what their future plans entail with regards to their property.

 

Equity release early repayment charges have historically been a mixture of fixed penalty, gilt based, Bank of England base rate related and even long term interest rates called SWAP rates. The majority of equity release schemes across the market today is predominantly linked to government gilts. This can be in the form of an individually selected gilt such as Aviva’s, which is based on the age of the youngest homeowner, or follow an index of gilts such as the FTSE UK Gilts 15 Year Yield Index with Just Retirement.

 

These gilt related penalties on paper can look extreme given that Aviva can charge upto 25% of the amount repaid dependent upon the gilts yield falling from inception. Additionally, companies such as Just Retirement & Pure Retirement can charge a maximum of 20% of the fall in the FTSE UK Gilts 15 Year Yield Index. Therefore, the nature of gilts leads to uncertainty of their future levels & consequently any prediction regards their future level is unknown & cannot therefore be relied upon for early repayment purposes.

 

Currently, only one equity release company offers the certainty of knowing exactly what the future penalty could potential be; this company is LV= (Liverpool Victoria). Charging 5% for the first 5 years of the amount repaid & then 3% in the next 5 years, they actually have no early repayment charges after 10 years. This have given them a niche position within the equity release marketplace.

 

Stonehaven’s Move to Fixed Equity Release Early Repayment Charges

However, LV= equity release now have fresh competition and this is the beauty of where the equity release industry is right now. Competition is driving this market forward and its with such innovations & product development that is going to extend the volume of lending in 2015, to beyond the £14 billion released in 2014.

 

Stonehaven have been considering this move previously, however with their takeover by MGM, its plans were put on hold. With a new team behind Stonehaven now, they have obviously decided the time is now right to introduce  fixed penalty equity release plan to the market. It will be interesting to see how these new fixed ERC’s are perceived. Historically, applying fixed rate early repayment charges can come at a cost and this is usually borne in the equity release interest rate with an extra levy on it.

 

At present Stonehaven have not indicated any changes to their interest rates with the lowest currently being the Stonehaven Interest Select Lite plan at 5.46% monthly (5.87% representative APR). Therefore, the fixed penalty charges look to have been absorbed into the current equity release deals on record.

 

So for anyone considering the equity release & uncertain regards whether an equity release scheme will be required over the longer term, the new equity release early repayment charge from Stonehaven could be a viable option to consider. Providing fixed, transparent & easy to understand  ERC’s with just 5% penalty in the first 5 years, 3% for the next two & zero after the end of the 8th year, Stonehaven have taken over LV=’s mantle of potentially the best early repayment charging system available in the equity release market today!

 

Further Information

To learn more about Stonehaven’s range of products attracting the new 8 year fixed penalty, please contact the Equity Release Supermarket team on 0800 783 9652 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk.

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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Update on the Latest Equity Release Interest Rates

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Equity release interest rates have never shown as much flux as we are seeing today. There are probably two major reasons for this which is greater competitiveness between the lifetime mortgage lenders and lower long term interest rates.

 

Both factors combined have resulted in equity release interest rates seeing their lowest levels in their history. So, could this be the best time to latch on to one of these deals thereby consolidating a sub 6% interest rate for the rest of your life? Maybe.

 

There are two very good reasons for securing equity release interest rates at today’s levels. Firstly you will be charged less interest (which remember does compound), thus leaving more equity to use later on in life if required. The second reason would be your beneficiaries will benefit as they will potentially have a smaller equity release loan to repay at the end, when the house is eventually sold.

 

So the good news is that everyone is a winner at present. With equity release lending increasing as highlighted by the latest Equity Release Council statistics showing that Q1 of 2013 had a 17% increase in advances than Q1 for 2012.

 

There are many factors fuelling the new tide of interest in equity release schemes. We have seen that there are serious issues highlighted by the FCA report on interest only mortgages and people’s inability or shortfalls in repaying them. Many people are therefore looking at their options & those not wishing to downsize to resolve their shortfall are turning to equity release to settle the bills.

 

This could be in the form of the roll-up equity release where no monthly payments are required. However, if income is not an issue, then a retirement mortgage could be a better solution such as the range of interest only lifetime mortgage schemes we have available now from the likes of Stonehaven, more2life and Hodge Lifetime.

 

This is where expert equity release advice can help save you £1000’s in future potential interest charges. By selecting a company such as Equity Release Supermarket, you are accessing a range of interest rates & deals that are more competitive than standard deals on the market. It is wise therefore to always shop around to negotiate the best equity release deal possible.

 

Selection of the lowest equity release interest rates – June 2013

 

EQUITY RELEASE LENDER PRODUCT

INTEREST RATE

APR

Aviva Lifestyle Flexi Plan

From 5.43%*

5.60%*

Hodge Lifetime Flexible Repayment Plan

5.59%

5.99%

LV= Lump Sum Lifetime Mortgage

5.89%

6.10%

Just Retirement Roll-up Lifetime Mortgage

5.92%

6.20%

New Life Flexible Lifetime Mortgage

5.99%

6.30%

Stonehaven Interest Select Lite (interest only)

5.99%

6.40%

*Aviva equity release interest rates start from 5.42% & dependent on personal criteria.

 

The majority of these deals come with free valuations and cashback offers.

For a full list of equity rates & to compare deals click here.

 

For further information and associated offers with the above lifetime mortgage plans please contact the Equity Release Supermarket team on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

These are lifetime mortgage plans. To understand the features and risks, ask for a personalised illustration.

 

Is It Possible To Remortgage My Current Equity Release Scheme?

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

Throughout the history of equity release schemes, now is as good a time as any to consider remortgaging your existing equity release plan. So whether you are looking to borrow additional money or looking for a lower interest rate, a review of your current equity release scheme could make sound financial sense.

 

With the equity release market constantly evolving and interest rates having fallen significantly over the past year or so, now is the right time to analyse whether you could get a better deal than your current equity release scheme. 2012 has brought about new plans and innovations in the lifetime mortgage market, so whether you are looking to borrow additional money or looking for a lower interest rate a review is always essential.

 

As a consumer, it is always good to keep exploring the market for better options. For those who already have an equity release plan, one of the most common concerns is whether they can easily switch from one scheme to another. Consider equity release schemes like a conventional residential mortgage; they are basically the same apart from the fact that with an equity release scheme there are no monthly payments.

 

Why consider an equity release remortgage?

The main reason for considering switching equity release plans today would be due to the fall in lifetime mortgage interest rates. Interest rates on borrowing are much lower today than a many years ago and with rates now as low as 5.57% on the Aviva flexible lifetime mortgage plan, considerable compound interest could be saved over the long term. Combine this lowest ever interest rate with the current crop of deals available such as Aviva’s £1,000 cashback and free valuation, makes an equity release remortgage to Aviva an great inheritance saving action plan.

 

Which are the best schemes to switch to?

Another important change in the market is that many new types of equity release mortgage have become available today. For instance, lenders may now have much more flexible terms on the loan than previously. Over 5 years ago there was no such term as a ‘drawdown lifetime mortgage’.

Now we have the likes of Just Retirement, Aviva, LV= and an even enhanced drawdown equity release plans (where poor health exists) from companies such as more2life. We now also have a repayment facility included in a new plan from Hodge Lifetime. Hodge allow 10% overpayments each year with NO early repayment charges and even no penalty on downsizing after 5 years of the start of the plan.

Not only do we have roll-up schemes, but increasingly popular are becoming the interest only lifetime mortgage schemes from the likes of Stonehaven. Whereas in the past the interest could only roll-up, nowadays with Stonehaven equity release you can actual repay the interest in order to maintain a level balance on your mortgage. This is a great idea for those who wish to take some equity out of their property, but ensure that a guaranteed amount will only be payable to the lender at the end of the day.

 

Therefore, a regular review of any equity release scheme is recommended as your circumstances may have changed, or your future plans may be different from those years ago when the original plan was taken out. Considering all this, it is likely that if you’ve had an equity release mortgage for some time now, you should be able to find a better and more suitable loan in today’s’ marketplace.

 

Are there any pitfalls?

Switching to an alternate scheme is not just a matter of searching the internet for equity release comparison sites and immediately applying for a new equity release loan. Several factors need to be considered carefully in order to work out whether a new loan is viable. Even though the terms of lending may look rather attractive on paper, these need to be considered in the light of your existing loan, particularly whether any early repayment penalties may exist.

 

Early repayment charges are penalties charged by lenders which are meant to protect the lender from any losses made due to an early repayment of the loan. This penalty could be a lump sum, or a percentage of the total amount borrowed. They could be as high as 25% of the principal amount or 5% of the amount borrowed. In order to make a considered and correct decision about switching, it is important to get more information on equity release remortgages.

 

How do I go about remortgaging?

The most appropriate person to seek advice from is a local independent equity release adviser. Your advisor can give you impartial and expert advice on which equity release plans may now work best for you. Your adviser can calculate exactly when you could start to make savings by switching to a new equity release plan. This would be assessed by considering all the costs involved in setting up a new loan, as well as taking into account any penalties.

On your behalf and with your written authority, your adviser will request an equity release redemption statement from your existing provider. This will establish exactly how much is outstanding, the interest rate being charged & any early repayment charges that may apply. Armed with this information, a full analysis can then take place to ascertain whether it is sensible & cost effective to switch plans.

 

So if you’re looking to borrow more from your existing plan, or wanting to reduce the future compounding effect of the rolled-up interest, always get specialist advice.

 

The quality of equity release advice can make significantly difference to the inheritance you leave behind. Contact the equity release remortgage experts at Equity Release Supermarket to take away any worry and ensuring you make the right decision for yourself and your beneficiaries.

 

Call freephone 0800 678 5159 and request a FREE equity release remortgage analysis today. Alternatively, complete our contact form with details of your current plan and one of our advisers will contact you to discuss further.

 

What are the Best Early Repayment Charges on Equity Release Schemes?

Saturday, August 18th, 2012

If you are considering taking equity release and early repayment maybe on the horizon, then selecting the right equity release plan is essential to avoid potentially high penalties. Here we illustrate the pitfalls of early repayment of an equity release scheme and what to look out for, if one day you are considering paying off your plan early.

 

Equity release schemes are in simple terms a mortgage that runs for your lifetime & commonly has NO monthly repayments. The principle reason for the growing popularity behind equity release schemes is that they enable you to free up the equity tied up within the bricks and mortar of your home.

 

With hindsight, once we all reach retirement age we should all have sufficient income & capital in the bank to meet our retirement objectives. However, such forward planning doesn’t always materialise for one reason or another; ill-health, redundancy or poor investment return can always interrupt anyone’s best laid plans. So what contingency plans can one put in place, or how can one minimise the risk of achieving retirement age without the funds to enjoy the longest holiday of your life?

 

Equity release schemes

We have witnessed the virtues of equity release mortgages & how they have come to the rescue of many retirees over the past 15 years. However, what can be a life saver initially can become a financial liability in the future unless professional equity release advice is provided by a qualified & experienced lifetime mortgage adviser.

 

One of the fundamental advances in the emerging equity release market is the protection this industry is now affording to its customers. With FSA (Financial Services Authority) regulation, trade bodies such as the newly formed Equity Release Council (formerly SHIP) & in-built protection features such as the no-negative equity guarantee, equity release clients have never been more re-assured of the improvements in these lifetime mortgages for the over 55’s.

 

What are the potential pitfalls of equity release schemes?

One area that hasn’t seen much improvement in the equity release marketplace would be the impact of early repayment charges (ERC’s). As equity release providers are lending over a potentially long duration; in some cases in excess of 40 years, they need to set their long term borrowing plans accordingly. Equity release on the face of it may seem very profitable to lenders, however for a large initial outlay it can be many years before they receive their capital & interest in return. To ensure that their profitability & future of the plans remains they must make contingencies in case of early surrender.

 

Hence, like any mortgage the lender, equity release providers need to include a penalty on early repayment of an equity release plan. To many this would not be seen as an issue as we may have all experienced some form of ERC with our mortgage companies in the past. The difference between residential penalties & equity release penalties are the basis of, the size, & duration that the penalties can be levied over.

 

What kinds of penalties are charged?

Whereas all residential mortgages charge some form of fixed penalty over a fixed number of years, equity release schemes in general are nothing like. The majority of lenders have now reverted to the old Norwich Union formula of using government gilts as the basis for their early repayment charge. Companies that have now followed suit are Just Retirement, more2life, Partnership, Stonehaven and more recently New Life Mortgages switched from a fixed rate basis onto gilts also.

However, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule who come from the likes of: –

 

  • LV= (Liverpool Victoria) – who still use a fixed penalty of 5% of the capital borrowed in the first 5 years to 3% in the next 5 years, then nothing thereafter.
  • Hodge Lifetimewho use a combination of a fixed rate penalty over 5 years and swap rates which relate to the long term effect of interest rates. However, they do have the advantage that if you move after 5 years, then no ERC’s will apply. Additionally, they permit 10% overpayments each year without penalty.

 

Is it all gloom and doom?

The answers to this could be both yes and no; depending if you have an existing equity release plan or not.

For equity release customers who took out a gilt related plan in the past it could be bad news. However, remember this is only bad news if you intend to repay early! If you have no intentions of early repayment, then no ERC’s would be applicable. All equity release schemes will NOT apply any penalty on repayment of the equity release due to death or long term care. Additionally, with the Equity Release Council (SHIP) rules in place if you are moving or downsizing you can take your existing scheme with you with no penalty. Equity release schemes have clearly made it known they are a lifetime mortgage. Therefore, the plans are not designed to provide short term borrowings.

 

You could however hedge your bets on occasions, but as the phase goes…let the buyer beware. For instance, with gilts rates currently at such low levels, unprecedented in the years that equity release has been around, could now be a good time to consider a gilt related equity release plan over the medium term?

The reason for taking out such a plan now would be the fact that these gilt related ERC equity release providers will not levy an ERC should the gilt rate have risen since the mortgage was taken out. In fact companies such as Aviva won’t charge an ERC if the gilt rate remains the same or even falls by a margin of 0.12%.

It is a gamble, as there is still much uncertainty in the economy, but the markets would expect that gilts are sure to go back up in the future when interest rates maybe rise. When though is the golden question.

 

So, gauging which equity release scheme is the best doesn’t all boil down to interest rates. A combination of assessing your future plans and how much, and when you actually require these funds can be just as important.

 

Afterall, what is the point of taking out an equity release plan with Aviva an interest rate of 5.66%, when upon early repayment you could be charged an enormous penalty of upto 25% of the amount you originally borrowed! It may be better to pay a slightly higher rate, with the knowledge that you either have no penalty or at least a known penalty from the outset.

 

Having an experienced equity release adviser is paramount in helping to decide which is the best equity release scheme, for your particular circumstances. By not only looking at your current situation, but also your future plans; your requirements now and also in the future will help your adviser assist in making the right equity release decision for you.

 

Equity Release Supermarket provide independent equity release advice from the whole of the market. Having the experience of actually working with the likes of Aviva, Prudential, NatWest and Norwich Union, gives our advisers the advantage of knowing the ins and outs of lenders early repayment charges and being able to give quality advice.

 

If you have any questions about equity release early repayment charges then please call one of our specialists on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk.

 

A Whole New Ball Game Begins with Home Equity Release Schemes

Monday, May 21st, 2012

With interest rates being so low, and investments so sluggish, many people who had retired on a nest egg are starting to struggle. The crisis seems far from over so it might be time to consider other options for “topping up” those savings and the income that they create with a home equity release scheme.

 

Most home equity release plans come in many forms but the most common one now is the lifetime mortgage. This style of equity release mortgage is only available to those over the age of 55, as they include special features exclusively designed for elderly and retired people. This more vulnerable age group now has the protection of the FSA (Financial Services Authority) & the trade body currently undergoing reformation which is SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans).

 

Changing attitudes & beliefs

These property equity release plans are designed to be secured on properties which have had most or the entire existing mortgage paid off. Equity release is essentially a re-mortgage, but with special consideration taken into what stage of life the homeowner is in. The statistics show that retirees are now living longer and have a renewed vigour & enthusiasm that has rekindled that sense of adventure from years gone by.

 

Why? The whole idea and acceptance that we are only here once; so ‘let’s make the most of it’ attitude.

 

Home equity release schemes are a great way of topping-up a retirement pension, as they can be arranged to either provide an additional amount of “income”, by slowly releasing the equity from a home in a controlled manner. Otherwise, they can provide a lump sum of cash which can go top-up an emergency fund, or to provide capital that can be used for a lifestyle purposes such as home improvements, a new car or holidays.

 

New lending approach from equity release companies

The benefits of today’s range of home equity release schemes are that they provide excellent value for money, given that equity release interest rates are the most competitive ever. Interest rates are now available from the likes of AVIVA starting from just 5.57% dependent upon age, property value & equity release scheme taken.

 

This new approach to equity release lending takes more account of how potentially profitable a plan is to them. We have already seen this to some degree with LV= who operate a tiered interest rate structure dependent upon age. Basically, the older the youngest applicant is, the higher the interest rate becomes. The principle behind this is, the younger one is, the longer their life expectancy should be. Consequently, the longer the equity release plan runs for the greater the final balance which results in a greater profit margin for the lender.

 

Makes business sense, or does this? Only time will tell, however from the initial feedback and rates being made available from the Aviva trial program indicates that considerable reductions in interest rates can be made, even with the offer of the free valuation and upto £1000 cashback!

 

What effect does this have on the children?

For those looking for the lowest interest rate on a home equity release mortgage a lower interest rate will save £1000’s over the long term. This will reduce the financial burdening of compound interest from day-to-day with the mortgage arranged so that the additional cost of interest charged is taken from the equity in the home. This means that the burden is shifted to the inheritance estate, or to when the home is sold when the policy holders are in care or downgrade their home. In each of these cases, it is likely that the market will be more buoyant and the home will have more value anyway as hopefully property values will have risen over the duration of the home equity loan period.

 

With savings taking such a beating due to low interest rates and pensions being punished so hard by this crisis, many retired people are struggling with their finances. Sometimes products like home equity release schemes can help and provide some extra comfort and peace of mind. They can top-up the incomes provided through annuities or drawdown pensions, and are usually available on terms which are more flexible and costs effective than those taken out in years gone by.

 

Equity release is an important decision. However, with the help & support of specialists in the field of lifetime mortgage and home reversions plans such as Equity Release Supermarket we can find the best equity release deal for you.

 

No matter your location in the UK or Northern Ireland we have equity release schemes covering these locations. So either pick up the phone & call 0800 678 5159 & speak to one of the equity release team or click here to find your local equity release adviser.

 

These are lifetime mortgages and home reversion plans. To understand their features and risks, ask for a personalised illustration.

How Easy is it to Remortgage My Equity Release Plan?

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Equity release schemes have now been in existence for over 15 years in their current format. Here we answer some common questions such as – ‘Can I get a better interest rate?’ & ‘Can I borrow additional funds? ’.

 

Equity release schemes allow you to free up some or all of the equity tied up in your property and use the tax free cash for lifestyle reasons. This can be a particularly useful option for those who do not have enough cash flow and own a property, but do not wish to sell it.

If you already have an equity release scheme but for some reason you’re thinking, ‘should I remortgage my equity release?’ it may be worth your while to compare equity release rates & deals to find a more suitable product.

 

The equity release market is constantly changing, with interest rates rising and falling, and new innovative equity release schemes becoming available all the time. For instance, interest rates at the moment are much lower than they were just a few years back. So if you decide to remortgage your equity release just now, the fall in interest rates could result in significant savings for you over the long term, even when you take into account the setting up costs, which include solicitors fees, application fees etc. Not only that but you may have released all the money from your original plan & now find you require a ‘top-up’ to continue enjoying your retirement.

 

Why should I review my existing equity release plan?

With equity release schemes becoming increasingly popular, equity release providers are developing new products and schemes all the time. Something that was not an option a few years ago may now have become entirely possible. Therefore, a more suitable and pragmatic product may now be available. This means that by reviewing your existing equity release UK plan and shopping around for new options is a good idea, especially at this point in time.

 

What should I look out for?

Equity release schemes are defined as a lifetime mortgage. As such all plans have some form of in-build early repayment charge which is differentiated by the company offering the equity release plan. These penalties can exist for a set number of years on a fixed basis, or alternatively they can be linked to an investment such as government gilts or Bank of England base rate.

Particularly government gilts seem to be a favourable barometer used in today’s equity release marketplace. The two largest lifetime mortgage companies – AVIVA & Just Retirement have decided to use them, so you need to be aware of potential back end penalties if the equity release mortgage is paid off early.  Other potential suitors such as LV= (Liverpool Victoria) & New Life Mortgages will only charge a fixed percentage penalty over either 5 or 10 years, with no penalty thereafter.

 

What is the next step?

If you are considering remortgaging your existing equity release scheme you must seek the professional services of an equity release adviser who has the experience of remortgage work. The adviser should be independent, so as to have the whole range of equity release schemes at their disposal. This is important as to remortgage again will incur a new round of equity release set up costs which need to be minimised as much as possible to ensure the new equity release deal is viable.

Before you decide to proceed with an equity release remortgage, it is important to consider several factors.

Remortgaging an existing equity release plan is not just a matter of switching to a new policy.

 

The following areas all need to be assessed & equity release comparisons made: –

Current value of the property – this may have changed since the original valuation, particularly in light of recent market conditions
Age of the youngest applicant – since the original equity release plan was taken out, you will be older, thus the loan-to-value ratio’s will have increased also meaning you can borrow a higher percentage of the house value
Balance of the existing equity release scheme – this can be based on your last annual statement or by requesting a redemption statement from your lender
Whether any early repayment charges would apply? – this can be ascertained from the redemption statement that should be ordered from your existing lifetime mortgage provider. This figure can be the difference between staying & switching plans dependent & the size & duration thereof.

 

Upon collating this data your equity release adviser can make an informed decision as to whether to stay put, or it’s in your best interests to switch plans. This is where the adviser’s independence becomes important. With any new equity release application comes a new set of set up costs. However, if your adviser can obtain a free valuation, cashback or any other incentive current available, then this will mitigate some of the new charges & make the whole process more worthwhile.

Professional financial advisers from Equity Release Supermarket will have all these tools at their disposal. With years of practical experience & many advisers having worked at the likes of AVIVA & Prudential, we know how these plans can be remortgaged & transacted quickly & cost effectively. With our current crop of best equity release deals we ever had, now is definitely a good time as any to consider saving yourselves, & your beneficiaries £1000’s by switching your existing equity release plan.

 

For a FREE no obligation equity release remortgage analysis, please contact the Equity Release Supermarket team on 0800 678 5159.

Alternatively, please complete the ‘find an adviser’ contact form to book an appointment with your local equity release adviser.

 

Equity Release Supermarket is one of the leading independent, over 55’s equity release specialists who have won awards for quality & impartial advice.

They can be contacted at mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk where your enquiry will be treated with strictest confidence.

 

Aviva Announce News of the First Sub 6% Equity Release Interest Rate for over 5 years!

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Aviva today announce an exclusive 5.92%pa interest rate to Equity Release Supermarket on its Lifestyle Flexi plan.

News had it that 2012 was going to be a breakthrough year for the Equity Release Market. Today this statement was confirmed.

The first sub 6% annual interest rate for over 5 years will have a major impact on the equity release market & confidence in general.

Ironically enough, this followed news earlier in the day from Just Retirement that it had just reduced its own rate in reaction to Aviva’s a week earlier. The new Just Retirement rate of 6.15% pa was considered extremely competitive until Aviva gatecrashed their party later on in the day.

Today’s groundbreaking news on the Aviva Lifestyle Flexi plan has come hot on the heals of my previous news items of 27th January  & 30th January in announcing earlier Aviva and LV= rate reductions.

 

So why is there such an equity release interest rate war currently?

We need to look at the market as whole, the recent economic factors & how these companies are funded.

Both Aviva & Just Retirement are big annuity providers & companies with the backing of annuities have been able to ride the storm, ever since the credit crunch began a few years ago. You may be aware that most equity release companies with bank funding such as Saffron, Coventry Building Society & Hodge Lifetime to some degree, have dropped out of the market. Longer term funding has been an issue for them.

 

However, this doesn’t answer the whole story, so lets look a bit deeper…

We have mentioned the credit crunch. It is evident first hand from our Equity Release Supermarket data that a significant element of equity release loans are for financial, rather than lifestyle factors. This means there is a greater emphasis on ‘need’ rather than ‘wants’.

Retirees in general are finding retirement a financial struggle in trying to make ends meet. Overall attitude towards retirement & their legacies has also changed over the years with a more ‘live for today’ motto. With drawdown equity release plans becoming increasingly popular, this lends true to our analysis.

People are taking just enough for today to clear debts, help the kids & have a small amount behind them to provide that ‘cushion’ that provides them with a feel good factor.

 

 

The Aviva Lifestyle Flexi Deal in Finer Detail

Market leading fixed interest rate of 5.92%
£500 cashback on completion
FREE valuation upto £1 million
Drawdown equity release scheme
Earliest age for application of 55 years
Minimum £10,000 initial loan
Minimum property valuation of £75,000

 

In addition to the great news on their lowest interest rate for years, now is as good time as any to take out an Aviva Equity Release Plan. With both a £500 cashback & free valuation offer, the net set up costs for an equity release application are now minimal. With Equity Release Supermarket’s advice fee being lower than its major competitors, then now is the time to seriously considering taking out an equity release plan with Equity Release Supermarket, if you have strong intentions to do so anyway.

 

Early Repayment Advantages with Aviva

With GILT rates at a current all time low, it would also favour equity release lenders who use gilts to govern their early repayment charges. Aviva use an individual government gilt to measure whether a future early repayment charge will apply. The yield of this gilt is noted on the day the equity release plan starts. Upon redemption, the yield is noted at that point & gauged to see whether it has it increased or fallen during that period.

 

Should the gilt yield have increased or stayed the same then NO penalty will apply. Aviva will even permit a reduction of 0.12 basis points before even applying a penalty. Therefore, with gilt rates currently being so low, there is less likelihood of the yields falling today than ever previously. However, this cannot be guaranteed & if you are considering early repayment then please speak to our team of advisers first.

With a national team of equity release advisers who can provide both face-to-face & phone based financial advice, we are only a telephone call away from offering you a market leading equity release deal.

If you would like to take advantage of a free initial consultation regarding the Aviva or any other equity release mortgage, please call the Equity Release Supermarket team on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

The following links provide further equity release information: –

Request an Aviva quote  | Request a Just Retirement quote  | Find a local adviser |

Equity Release Calculator

 

What is the Maximum Equity Release Payout that I Can Expect?

Monday, January 30th, 2012

If you have been seriously considering taking out an equity release plan, the most important question to come to mind will be ‘what is the maximum equity release available?’

 

Obviously, you may not want to secure everything you can get, however, a useful equity release calculator can advise upto the maximum available. For instance with a drawdown equity release plan, it would be helpful if you knew the maximum, as any funds not taken in such a scheme would then be held in a reserve facility for future use.

You will also need to bear in mind that there are certain factors that will be taken into account in order to arrive at the figure that would be released to you in such a plan.

 

First and foremost, your age will be a very important factor. The younger you are, the less you can expect to have released in an equity release scheme. You would tend to find that the companies that deal in equity release plans add an extra percentage point of LTV (loan-to-value) for each year the applicant gets older.

This is because the relevant company has to estimate how long it is likely to be until they will be able to secure the final equity – i.e. your property. If you take out an equity release mortgage when you are in your late-fifties or early-sixties, you can expect to receive a far lower payout than if you were to have taken out the plan in your eighties, for example. This is purely down to life expectancies which are increasing all the time as people are healthier & more active in their retirement years.

 

You should also bear in mind, at this stage that the companies dealing in equity release schemes have a minimum age threshold in place and this is generally set at 55 years of age. These would be companies such as Aviva, New Life Mortgages, and Stonehaven. However, some equity release companies such as Just Retirement & LV= impose a higher minimum age of 60 before you can apply.

The next factor that will be taken into account is the actual market value of your property. Again, the higher this is, the more you can expect to receive in your payout. There are minimum value thresholds in place here as well which is £60,000. However, most companies impose higher minimum values & £75,000 or £100,000 isn’t uncommon.

If you are looking to take out an equity release plan in a joint application, the youngest applicant’s age will be the deciding factor as to the amount of money that will be released in the payout. This is because the company must wait for both applicants to either pass away or move into permanent residential care and the youngest applicant will be the most likely to vacate the property last in either capacity. Also, as stated earlier, the youngest person in the couple must also be over the age of 55.

 

There are convenient equity release calculators on many websites that will give you a very good idea of the amount of money to be expected as a payout when you take out such a plan. All you need do is simply complete an online enquiry form and these will return the maximum value that may be available to you in an equity release scheme. If you are happy with this figure, you may then go ahead and start the ball rolling with the relevant company; there is also a facility to discuss equity release mortgages in more detail with a qualified equity release adviser, if you have further questions that require attention.

 

 
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