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When Equity Release is NOT Right For You!

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

This article looks at why a release of equity from your home may NOT be in your best interests, after all Equity Release Supermarket is an impartial website and we only want what is best for our customers. Whether that is to proceed, delay and consider the alternatives or to dismiss outright, we will always provide you with a decision that is in YOUR best interests.

 

Equity release schemes are becoming a popular solution for homeowners aged over 55 who want to raise cash without having to sell their property. Although the safeties of equity release schemes are now assured by regulation, the decision to take equity from your property may still not be in your best interests.

 

Start of the equity release planning process

While there are different types of equity release schemes such as Lifetime Mortgages, Home Reversion and Interest Only Lifetime Mortgages, essentially they all act as a vehicle to release some of the equity that is built into your property, and you only need to repay it only once the house is eventually sold.

 

This is all well and good, however you should never shoe horn an equity release plan to fit your personal needs. In fact the opposite should be the case. Any equity release plan should be designed to meet your own personal goals & circumstances. If they don’t, then look towards the alternatives.

 

The fact that you are considering releasing equity means you have a need for financial planning and require funds to meet your monetary objectives. There is nothing wrong with that. Throughout our adult lives, circumstances will dictate that some form of finance will be required, whether it’s a mortgage, loan, overdraft or the credit card. As long as the finance selected was the right product for the right reasons, then it should prove the correct decision to make.

 

This premise remains the same even throughout retirement. The needs of the baby boomer generation are now proving more expansive than previous retired generations. With long term health improving & the over 60’s having a more active lifestyle, retirees have a flavour of living a more care free life and fulfilling their ambitions and dreams. However, jumping to the conclusion that an equity release loan is the only answer, may prove to be a mistake.

 

When should equity release be a ‘NO’

For every reason why one should take a release of equity, there are as many reasons also why not to.  Here we look at the reasons and alternatives why you should think twice about taking out an equity release mortgage, be it a home reversion or one of the many lifetime mortgages.

 

1.      Age – equity release schemes are not available until the youngest homeowner is 55 years attained. There are instances whereby one person may 55+ and their partner is younger. Under these circumstances it is still possible to take a lifetime mortgage only, however this should really be only under exceptional circumstances such as poor health or the management of serious debt issues (maybe to avoid bankruptcy or house repossession). The age factor is an important principle behind one of the negative issues surrounding the equity release loan – compounding of the interest. Remember, the younger you are when releasing equity from your property, the more time the capital has to compound on a yearly basis.

 

The consequential effect of a longer term is that the final balance will be larger; resulting in more of the proceeds from the eventual sale of the property needing to be paid back to the lender. Bear in mind this will not be paid back by you, you won’t be around, unless the lifetime mortgage is being repaid due to moving into a residential care home! It will effectively be paid back by your children/beneficiaries.

 

NOTE -the resultant effect of a longer compounding interest charging period is that the final balance being much higher and a correspondingly much lower inheritance for your children/beneficiaries. If this is something that concerns you, request an equity release quote and see what the potential balance could be in the future. Making certain assumptions on future property values and your anticipated life expectancy would provide an estimate of how much equity could be left, if any at all. Should this be prohibitive, then a solution, if right for your circumstances would be to delay you decision for a few years until such a time the roll-up effect hasn’t as greater an effect.

 

2.      Consider possible alternatives – equity release should really be considered a ‘last resort’ once all the alternative forms of finance have been eliminated. The reason for this statement is due to the long term cost of these schemes, whereas some of the alternatives, if affordable could be more reasonable and favourable for your children or beneficiaries. As part of the Equity Release Supermarket advice service all our advisers will consider whether any alternative forms of raising finance would be better for you. These could include the following: -

 

  • Interest only or interest only lifetime mortgage – if you can comfortably afford to make repayments during retirement then look at such schemes. Interest only or interest only lifetime mortgages would be better for your children as there is NO compounding of interest. The balance would remain the same throughout the term as when the mortgage started. Therefore, the final balance will be known in advance and any inheritance can be ascertained using assumptions on future property prices. With the minimum equity release loan available being £10,000, alternative loan types maybe better. Could a personal loan or credit card be used to service the debt? Certainly options to consider that would also clear the debt, rather than it increasing like an equity release loan.

 

 

  • Downsizing – dependent upon the size of your current property and its uses, then moving to a smaller property could be a solution. By downsizing to a lower valued property would raise money that could then fund your financial objectives. If nothing else, it could delay the decision to take equity release for many years. This is an important decision and not to be taken lightly. There are costs involved in moving house – stamp duty, legal fees etc and there will undoubtedly be improvements you wish to make to your new property which will also include additional costs. Moving to a new area will also mean new neighbours, facilities such as shops, doctors etc should always be considered as part of the downsizing process.
  • Check for means tested benefits – Before taking any form of additional finance in retirement, it would be prudent to check whether you have any entitlement to means tested benefits. This could include state benefits such as pension credit, savings credit or even council tax benefit. Therefore, always check with the Pensions Office or your local council to establish whether you could claim further income for the state. This would only relate to lower income issues and should your income fall below the thresholds set by the authorities then you may have some entitlement. Having this extra income may solve or temporarily solve the need for equity release. If you are entitled to means tested benefits it would also be sensible to check whether any home improvement grants are available on your property. This could be even if you are planning home improvements or not. You may be eligible for loft insulation, cavity wall insulation or boiler replacement under some local authorities.
    NOTE – if you still pursue a release of equity and you are drawing state benefits, the equity release lump sum could result in a partial or total reduction in means tested benefits. If you wish to check your eligibility for means tested benefits you can check with you local equity release adviser on 0800 678 5159.
  • Use existing savings/family bequests – if you have savings or investments that are not used for income purposes then you should consider using these funds before taking equity from your property. Bear in mind that taking equity from your property and merely leaving it languishing in a bank account is not best advice. In today’s interest rate world you will not receive a better interest rate on a bank account than the interest being charged on an equity release scheme.  Therefore, use any savings or liquid investments first, but bear in mind that an emergency fund of upto £10,000 is also prudent to have for that rainy day. This decision is always down to the individual as some clients feel more comfortable leaving greater sums on deposit, just in case. There is also no shame in asking family members for financial support, particularly when the decision to take equity release may not be to their approval due to the effect on their inheritance! Should a family member wish to fund your loan then this may be more cost effective for them, but this could boil down to whether they are happy tying up these monies longer term when they may have their own family needs in the near future.

 

Evidently, there are many factors and solutions that can affect the eventual decision as to whether equity release is right for you. For that reason it is imperative to speak to a financial adviser who is trained & qualified in equity release solutions.

 

To speak to your local equity release adviser click here or call Freephone 0800 678 5159 where independent advice is available.

 

Equity Release – Freedom From Financial Worries

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Your property is your biggest asset. As the cost of property in the UK is steadily rising again, equity release schemes can help you release some of the equity you have built up in your property.

‘Equity‘ is defined as the difference between the property valuation less any mortgage that is secured on your home.

 

An equity release scheme is helpful for retired homeowners who live on pensions but are unable to meet their daily expenses. Additionally, people who have adequate incomes may still struggle to pay for life’s little luxuries & equity release can also help here.

 

If you are a retired pensioner and desire to spend the rest of your life without any type of financial worries, equity release can be a feasible option. An equity release scheme saves you from the worry of any monthly repayments during old age as the loan is only repaid once the property is sold after you pass away or move into care.

 

Take professional help to ease the complete procedure

Home reversion and lifetime mortgages are the two different equity release schemes you can choose from. As these plans involve many different companies who in turn may have different schemes, you must take professional help to determine the most feasible option to suit your requirements.

When opting for an equity release scheme, you need to consider different factors such as welfare and tax benefits and the inheritance value of your property against the amount you get by releasing the equity. Limits are imposed by the Pensions Service on how much you are allowed to keep in savings before any benefits are affected. Currently you can keep £10,000 in savings before there is any effect on means tested benefits such as pension credit & savings pension credit.

 

By taking professional help from equity release specialists, you can clear all your doubts about different equity release schemes. Advisers will also make sure that the process goes smoothly without any hassles. If you are looking forward to spend your retirement without any financial worries, equity release could be the best option for you.

 

To ascertain which equity release plan is suitable for your requirements please contact Mark Gregory on 0800 678 5159 or email [email protected]

 

Are Mortgages Available in Retirement & What Income Is Acceptable To Lenders?

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

It is becoming more common for people reaching state retirement age to still have a mortgage running into retirement.

Even more so, there is a growing demand for extra mortgage lending once they are in retirement.

Here we discuss what retirement mortgage options are available, acceptable income sources & where to look for independent advice on these matters.

 

There can be many reasons for having a mortgage beyond state retirement age; namely poor performing low cost endowments, previous unemployment or even long term health issues.

A mortgage that runs into retirement can have major issues with both affordability & term to its repayment date. Most lenders will require repayment on a mortgage by age 75.

We will now look at ensuring all available income is being claimed. Once researched, we can then discuss which of these are eligible for inclusion in mortgage affordability calculations.

 

 

So what options are available on reaching retirement itself?

Well this will depend on affordability & how the financial management of the mortgage itself can continue. The main issue with regards to affordability of an interest only mortgage at retirement is how much retirement provision has been made & maximising any other available sources of income.

 

 

What Type of Retirement Incomes Should I be Receiving?

Having reached state retirement age the state pension will become available. However, the level of this is dependent upon national insurance contributions paid over one’s working life. The current basic state pension is £97.65pw & on its own would not be sufficient to support an interest only mortgage payment alone. State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) & any entitlement to the graduated state pension can possibly boost the state pension somewhat, but not substantially.

State pensions are a source of income that can be utilised towards a mortgage in retirement.

Company pension scheme members can benefit greatly with additional pension income that could be index-linked yearly & be calculated dependent upon the number of year’s service.

There is also evidence that personal pension plans can also boosting retirement income. Increasing importance is being placed in this area on seeking independent financial advice. Due to falling annuity rates it is more important to shop around & optimise your pension fund. Annuity providers can now enhance your pension income if poor health issues exist.

Both company & personal pensions are a source of income that can be utilised towards a mortgage in retirement.

 

 

With the recent economic downturn we have unfortunately seen the reduction in bank & building society interest rates. This has affected investors, once reliant on good interest payments, which would supplement their lifestyle. Again ensure you shop around to obtain a higher interest with your savings is more important than ever. Tax payers should make use of their annual cash ISA allowance of £5100 & non-taxpayers should ensure that Inland Revenue form ‘R85′ is completed in order they can obtain their interest paid gross.

Savings interest can be a source of income that can be utilised towards a mortgage in retirement.

It is also important to check whether any means tested benefits are available from the Department of Work & Pensions.  Dependent upon age there may be eligibility for certain benefits such as pension credit & savings pension credit.

 

Income levels below £132.60pw for a single person & £202.40pw (2010-2011) jointly could allow a claim for pension credit to be made. Also, check any entitlement to council tax benefit availability, which even though it cannot help mortgage payments directly, it can lower the monthly outgoings.

If there are disability issues then depending on the condition, disability living allowance (DLA), attendance or even carers allowance may be available.

Lenders have different rules on means tested benefits – to see which qualify for a mortgage in retirement contact Equity Release Supermarket on 0800 678 5159

 

Maintaining employment through or into retirement does obviously alleviate some of the financial issues. However, experience has shown that there are difficulties in gaining employment.

Nevertheless, it is increasingly apparent that people are now looking to continue working into retirement & provide extra cash to support retirement lifestyle. If part time work can be found then it can not only assist the budget, but also the soul. People in retirement are feeling & looking younger & with more activity in retirement their average life expectancy is rising as social constraints are removed.

Employment income will only help people with existing mortgages going into retirement, but not anyone trying to obtain a mortgage in retirement. Lenders will only accept employment income if a new mortgage is to be repaid before state retirement age.

Secondary investment properties can provide a form of rental income which can be used towards paying a mortgage in retirement. However, if any existing buy to let mortgage is in operation this will need to be declared & considered as part of the application.

As long as a tenancy agreement is in existence then this will be considered by the lender.

 

Although not a specific means of retirement income, equity release schemes can also be considered a means of retirement support. The flexibility of drawdown equity release schemes now incorporates the use of drawdown facilities which are essential in supplementing a flexible lifestyle.

These drawdown equity release schemes provide an initial tax free capital lump sum, with an additional reserve facility that can be gradually withdrawn over future years.

Equity release lenders such as Just Retirement permit additional withdrawals in small amounts of £2,000 a time, which helps retirement planning & provides financial security for the future.

 

Another method of providing income from equity release is through a Home Income Plan. These equity release plans involve a combination of two products; a Home Reversion scheme & a lifetime annuity. The home reversion company purchases a percentage of the property in return for a tax free cash lump sum. The lump sum can then used to purchase the annuity which can then generate the lifetime pension income required.

Both these equity release schemes will not assist in obtaining a mortgage in retirement. However, in their own right they can provide alternative capital or income in retirement with no monthly payments.

As you can see there are various income sources which mortgage lenders can consider.

 

With recent restriction on lending criteria, it is more important than ever to obtain independent financial advice on this specialist area of retirement mortgage finance.

For further information & advice on mortgages in retirement, please click here for details of interest only mortgages currently available.

Alternatively please contact Mark Gregory on 0800 678 5159 or email [email protected]

 

 
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