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Posts Tagged ‘Pros and Cons of Equity Release Schemes’

The Importance of Annual Equity Release Reviews

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

 

Feefo 100% Trust equity release reviews

 

It’s always a thrill to call my clients when their equity release application finally completes. That’s the time when they’ll receive their equity release proceeds and have the necessary funds to meet their objectives, such as home improvements, new car, helping their family or simply repaying debts. Although the application process has now completed, it’s actually the start of what should be a long relationship between the client and myself.

 

How Equity Release Supermarket can assist…

 

Here at Equity Release Supermarket we pride ourselves on the quality of our whole service proposition. Therefore, following completion of any application we always invite our customers to provide feedback as a measure of how their equity release has been handled. An equity release application can take on average between 6-8 weeks and during that time there are many steps we manage on behalf of our clients to make sure it’s transpires as smooth and as quickly as possible.

 

Our feedback request starts at the first stage of the equity release process which is where we provide the independent equity release advice governed by the regulation of the Financial Conduct Authority and following the Equity Release Council’s code of conduct. Thereafter, we ask for feedback regarding our administration team who process the cases and manage liaison between the client & solicitor & the lender. This aspect is of paramount importance to us as this governs the speed & efficiency of the whole application.

 

Feefo Equity Release Reviews

Feefo 100% Trusted Merchant

Our genuine online Feefo reviews illustrate our dedication to servicing equity release customers and its testament to the fact Equity Release Supermarket received the prestigious Feefo 100% Trusted Merchant Award for 2013. In fact during 2014 we are still on track for 100% positive Feefo reviews from our clients. By visiting the www.equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk website & clicking on the Feefo logo you can read how our customers view our excellent service & shows how our advisers will go that extra yard in order to provide their clients with our excellent customer service proposition.

 

As an example, one such review I received recently was as follows: –

‘I was really impressed how quickly Mark Rumney sorted things out for me and even though he was going on holiday this did not stop him. He made sure that everything was in place for me before he went, even well into the evening. So thank you Mark and I would definitely recommend your services.’

 

Continually Innovating – Equity Release

 

Today’s equity release schemes are very flexible, and clients circumstances can change, therefore I like to call clients annually to touch base, remind them of their options and review their situation. During the annual review I like to: –

 

  • Remind clients of the ability to make voluntary interest payments
  • Check whether any new products may be more suitable
  • Check whether interest rates have reduced and are still competitive
  • Check that interest only lifetime mortgage schemes are still affordable

 

Let’s look at each of these in turn…

 

Voluntary Interest Payments:

Both Aviva & Hodge Lifetime have equity release schemes which allow you to make voluntary interest payments of up to 10% of the original loan amount, once schemes have been in place for 12 months. This can dramatically reduce the outstanding balance at the end of the term, so it’s important we remind our clients of this and explain the mechanics of how they make ad-hoc payments to their lender.

 

New products:

New providers and products are often launched which may prove more suitable, although you need specialist advice when considering switching schemes. I offer a free initial consultation to complete a switch plan analysis in order to determine whether it is best advice to switch equity release plans.

 

For example, Pure Retirement launched a drawdown lifetime mortgage plan in 2014, which tends to offer the highest reserve on the market, with the possibility of receiving £1,100 in cashback that can cover all the remaining set up costs. This may therefore appeal to customers of older equity release schemes, as they can possibly switch to a lower rate at the same time as have a new cash reserve facility for future use.

 

We are also starting to come across former Halifax Retirement Home Plan mortgage customers where Halifax/Scottish Widows have declined further borrowings due to the new MMR rules on affordability. Fortunately, we have assisted some of these retirees with the new ‘interest servicing’ products from the likes of Stonehaven, More2life & the Hodge Retirement Mortgage. All these plans could be made available following a full equity release review, where if appropriate we can find a scheme that allows further funds to be made available.

 

Lower Interest Rates:

There are legacy equity release schemes out there from companies that formerly offered lifetime mortgages. These companies, however have since stopped offering new lifetime mortgage or home reversion plans. These equity release companies can include Norwich Union (now Aviva), Prudential, NatWest Equity Release, Portman etc.

 

Another legacy equity release scheme we commonly come across is Papilio UK Equity Release (formerly Northern Rock), where many existing customers could benefit from new equity release plans that offer lower interest rates. There are ex-Northern Rock customers that are being charged over 7% with Papilio UK. The Aviva Flexi Lifetime Mortgage Plan can currently offer equity release interest rates as low at 5.63% (5.83% representative APR). By switching equity release schemes I have saved my clients £1000’s in compound interest over the longer term. A good deal for them & their beneficiaries!

 

Check ongoing affordability

Some of my clients have taken out a lifetime interest only mortgage with either Stonehaven or More2Life. They’ve chosen to pay a fixed monthly payment for the duration of the plan. However, both plans offer the flexibility of being able to stop payments at any time and let the interest roll up. Similarly, with the Hodge Retirement Mortgage you’re also able to switch to rolled up interest when the younger borrower reaches aged 80. These are things that should always be discussed at annual reviews.

 

Overall, the annual review call that I make to clients can be really worthwhile. It’s always nice hearing how they’ve spent and enjoyed their money. It’s usually another common time when they ask me to call one of their friends and family who’d also benefit from my specialist advice, as their friends and family have seen how equity release has changed their lives.

 

Other areas where I receive many calls from existing clients, which impact the need for further equity release advice, can include:

 

  • Moving House
  • Death of one borrower
  • Additional borrowing

 

Looking at these in turn…

 

Moving House:

Most equity release schemes are flexible and allow you to move at any time. However, advice is needed with regards to value of you property you can move into. You’re also able to repay most schemes early but this could be subject to a variable, or fixed, early repayment charge.

 

Death of a borrower:

It’s obviously a distressing time when you lose a loved one. I often receive calls from the survivor asking what options they have or what happens next. I’m able to answer their queries and explain the simple process of informing the lender. The main query is whether the survivor can remain in the family home, where the answer is usually yes.

 

Additional Borrowing:

Most lifetime mortgage schemes are set up with an automatic drawdown facility where you can contact the lender when you need funds from an agreed reserve at outset. However, once this is exhausted, or if you’ve got an older scheme without a reserve facility, I often get telephone calls to check eligibility for additional borrowing. Here we can help & contact the lender to check whether further funds could be made available from the equity release company.

 

Summary

Remember, equity release schemes are designed as lifetime mortgage contracts and therefore you need to review your situation regularly. I pride myself in offering this unique bespoke service and many of my customers can vouch for the benefits.

 

Should you feel you may benefit from an equity release review of your existing plan, please contact me – Mark Rumney DipPFS CeMAP on: –

 

m: 07957 974826 or

e: markrumney@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

How Equity Release Schemes Can Help Generate Extra Income in Retirement

Monday, March 10th, 2014

How equity release can provide extra income in retirementThroughout our working lives, retirement always seemed a distant destination. Plans to ensure that financial security is bestowed upon us are often postponed, while more pressing needs are fulfilled. Yes, the date to start a pension or retirement planning was always the proverbial ‘tomorrow’.

 

Unless you were fortunate enough to become a member of an employer’s final salary scheme, which even today are becoming a rarity, then it’s likely that the penny has dropped and there will ultimately be a reduction in income, once state pension age is reached.

 

However, all is not lost & although many people haven’t necessarily funded a pension or savings contract for their retirement, they may have inadvertently been savings via their biggest asset…their property!

 

Should any of these comments strike a chord, then please read on. Using my wealth of financial services & the last 14 equity release experience, I want to explain how your property can become your pension & take you down the road of enhancing your pension in retirement.

 

The inevitable expense of retirement…

First let’s start by establishing what the perception of retirement is & the future expenditures that maybe incurred during its reign.

These could encompass simple lifestyle costs such as any of the following: –

 

  • A new car?
  • Regular holidays?
  • Home improvements?
  • A caravan or motorhome?
  • More leisure time for golf or bowls?
  • Enjoy days out?

 

However, for many the reality of meeting these expenditures becomes a pipe dream as once retired, they could find their income severely reduced. In fact in some cases, pensioners have seen a reduction of two thirds of the income that they enjoyed whilst working. The danger of this becomes apparent. From experience many retirees DO NOT curb spending habits to realign their expenditures following a reduction in income.

 

This situation has led to a dramatic increase in post-retirement debt counselling, with many building significant credit card debt, which then spirals out of control. During times of employment debt can usually be easier to manage, with the ability to repay using extra hours, bonuses, overtime or even a 2nd job. These options are somewhat reduced for the silver surfer generation, albeit more retirees are considering working, & actually are filling vacancies that once were not considered unnecessary in retirement.

 

So what are the options, should the over 55’s find themselves with an income shortfall & need advice on their retirement solutions?

 

Well as stated earlier, your home may have become an extremely valuable asset with potential escalation its value over the decades. So let’s look at how your house could become your pension and provide a level of financial security.

 

Home equity plans have been around many years, but have never been as popular as they are today, so here I attempt to explain the pros and cons of equity release schemes.

 

Why do people take out an equity release plan?

More and more people are turning to equity release to fund home improvements, pay off debts and to enjoy holidays, but the underlying reason for this is that their income has reduced so much since they retired, they’re no longer able to save for larger purchases.

 

Similarly, many retirees are spending their tax free cash from their pensions on larger purchases, such as a new car and conservatory, but are finding that their disposable income has reduced to the extent that there’s hardly anything left each month having paid their household bills and bought their groceries etc.

 

We’ve all seen in the news that pensions aren’t producing the expected level of income that people hoped for: some final salary pension schemes have closed; annuity rates are historically lower as life expectancy improves; interest rates on savings have flat lined since the economic downturn, with even the highest instant access cash ISA rate only offers 3.02% variable (Newcastle Building Society).

 

Explore potential sources of additional income

Assuming that you’ve spent your lifetime savings, don’t wish to move or downsize yet, and have exhausted all other alternatives upon discussion with an equity release specialist like Equity Release Supermarket, there’s a number of other alternatives for you to consider:

 

  • The first step should be to check if additional income could be sourced from elsewhere such as local government? Always check whether any means tested state benefits or such as pension credit, or local authority benefits now labelled ‘Council Tax Reduction’ may be available. Please see my recent article on this – ‘Can an Equity Release Adviser Provide Advice on Means Tested State Benefits?

 

  • Finally, if you’ve got any existing debts, these could be refinanced & consolidated, potentially leaving you with one lower monthly payment.  These savings can then be used towards providing extra income in retirement.

 

What’s the best way to get an income from equity release?

No current lifetime mortgage providers actually offer a monthly income equity release plan. In fact only one provider ever has; Northern Rock offered an income producing lifetime mortgage. This was pulled once Northern Rock Equity Release (now Papilio UK) was closed to new business during the credit crunch. Even during its lifetime, the Northern Rock Cash-Plus plans were fairly inflexible in the sense that once income was arranged, it was fixed for life and could not be amended.

 

Nowadays, the majority of equity release applicants would rather have the flexibility of deciding when the take the tax-free cash, not to be dictated to with a fixed income for life. The most prudent & popular way is to use a drawdown equity release scheme. This is available from most lifetime mortgage providers and I can carefully assess which scheme is most suitable for you. By accepting a cash reserve facility from the equity release company, the applicant can then decide how much of this reserve facility they need to spend initially. The remaining balance untaken, is then held by the lender until such time the customer requires further cash drawdown. The beauty of the drawdown lifetime mortgage is that NO interest is charged whilst monies are left with the provider.

 

Let’s look at a couple that I met recently and witness how a drawdown equity release scheme works in practice:-

 

Case Study – ‘asset rich, income poor’

Jim & Mary, both aged 70, own a property worth £250,000 and are both retired. They manage reasonably well from their pension income, but this only pays for their normal day to living expenditure and they’re unable to afford the small luxuries in retirement that they’d always dreamed of. They’d like an extra income each year to pay for regular meals out, a cruise each year plus they like exploring National Trust type properties and country villages.

 

The solution: They’re able to release the minimum loan of £15,000 which will easily cover their first 2 years of expenditure as they also need to use £5,000 for a new bathroom.  In order to supplement their on-going income needs they’d like £4,000 ‘spending money’ each year. With the versatility of the Hodge Flexible Lifetime Mortgage Plan, they’re able to achieve this as Hodge would set up a reserve of £55,000 that can be accessed at any time, with a minimum withdrawal amount of £1,000. These extra withdrawals attract NO further charges.

Jim described this as ‘like having a bank account with £55,000 in it.’ The benefits to Jim & Mary are that none of this £55,000 reserve facility attracts any interest until it’s actually taken. They plan to withdraw around £4,000 a year for approx. 10 years, whilst they’re fit and healthy to enjoy it. The Hodge Lifetime Flexible Mortgage Plan comes with a free valuation offer currently.

 

 

When equity release should NOT be used to create an income!

Some equity release customers in the past have been advised to release the maximum lump sum from their property and reinvest into an investment product. Problems have arisen, as the income has reduced and the investment has often dropped in value, while interest on the equity release has rolled up and provided poor value for money.

 

Similarly, some customers previously released a lump sum to buy an annuity but it has proved difficult to get a good income from a relatively small lump sum. It normally takes considerable time to benefit from a pension annuity, but interest will have been charged on the full amount of equity that you originally released from your home.

 

Other customers have taken the maximum lump sum from their home and invested into deposit accounts or investment bonds, but have been dismayed with plummeting interest rates. With interest rates on equity release loans currently averaging over 6%, yet the best savings rates currently only 3%, this obviously represents poor value for money & certainly not best advice.

 

These are NOT ways that equity release mortgages should be utilised and why the drawdown lifetime mortgage scheme is the correct vehicle to use.

 

What are the main advantages of a drawdown scheme versus a maximum lump sum plan? 

  • Interest isn’t charged on the reserve amount, until you decide to take it
  • You can withdraw money from the reserve at any time
  • No further charges for each withdrawal made (except New Life & more2life)
  • Limiting your savings in the bank, can help eligibility for means tested benefits
  • The less money you borrow, the less interest your beneficiaries will need to repay when the plan ends

 

How much can I release under a Drawdown equity release scheme?

The amount depends on a number of factors, including property value, age of the youngest applicant and property type. With recent innovations in equity release schemes there is now an enhanced drawdown lifetime mortgage plan which can offer a greater cash reserve facility for those with a history of poor health, yet requiring the maximum cash facility available.

 

Equity Release Supermarket’s free equity release calculator found here our website can certainly assist in helping to ascertain the maximum equity release possible. This will provide a guideline which can then be qualified further by myself dependent upon your financial requirements, both now & in the future.

 

Therefore, please contact myself, Mark Rumney for your personalised illustration. Your request can be discussed over the telephone & once I have identified your requirements & checked eligibility. Following that, I can conveniently post or email out the best recommended scheme for your needs.

 

To follow up any aspects of this article, please contact me via my mobile 07957 974826 or email markrumney@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

Equity Release Is For Life, Not Just For Christmas

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

Equity Release is a Lifetime MortgageI recently read an advertisement in a National newspaper extolling the virtues of Equity Release and was surprisingly written on behalf of one of the main equity release brokers based in Preston. All fine I thought until I saw that it was aimed at grandparents struggling to buy Christmas presents for their grandchildren.

 

It created a small furore amongst my colleagues and peers. The blogs were alive with advisers & political commentators slating the fact that equity release was being considered for such short term measures. Not only that, but to take equity release to spend on the grandchildren, would effectively be spending their own inheritance!  With the compounding effect of the interest over the remaining years, this will turn out as one expensive Christmas present.

 

After all, the most popular type of equity release is the lifetime mortgage; appropriately named & for a reason. These schemes are designed for longevity, not short term or for frivolous reasons, where better alternatives may exist.

 

Some were arguing that whatever legal reason people wanted a release of equity for, withdrawing capital was their choice, not ours as advisers, and on the face of it that is correct.

However, when I looked into this scenario further this played on my conscience for personal reasons and I had serious reservations.

 

I have five grand-kids, all under five years old. I had to check with my wife, but on average we spend about £150 to £200 on each. Extravagant ? Maybe. Worth it ? Definitely.

 

With various other gifts for family and friends we spend about £1,500. Agreed not easy on low pension income and little liquid savings.

 

If I was in that position and saw the advertisement I would almost certainly look into the possibility of equity release schemes. I would hope that I would employ the services of an independent equity release adviser i.e. someone like me who would strongly advise not to go down this route.

 

And here are the reasons why:-

  1. The minimum initial lump sum on any equity release scheme is currently £10,000. This would have to equate to £2,000 for this Christmas, £8,000 in the bank for the next 4 Christmases. The cash in the bank may attract 1-3% interest whilst I would be paying up to 6% interest on the mortgage. Not a good idea
  2. The set up fees, depending on the lender, could be as high as £2,000. Acceptable if you are considering a large expense such as buying a new car, a holiday of a lifetime, clearing an mortgage or giving the grand-kids a start in life for house deposit or university fees. Therefore, as a proportion of a £10,000 release, set up costs can be a considerable percentage of the initial release. Not so good to borrow £2,000 for Christmas gifts on this basis.
  3. If, like me, your intended beneficiaries are your grand-kids then they are actually buying their own gifts via their future inheritance. Let’s assume £10,000 on a normal roll-up lifetime mortgage, even on the lowest rate with Aviva Flexi Plan currently at 5.62% (5.8% APR) and deducting the set up costs from this, would in 10 years have accrued to about £17,276. So 10 year’s worth of Christmas gifts has cost £7,276.

 

I applaud the fact that some of the broker companies are bringing Equity Release to the fore and the pros and cons of equity release schemes are highlighted to the general public.

 

As a dedicated Equity Release specialist I am convinced of the merits of raising capital by these means as long as the following measures are taken: –

  • All possible alternatives are discussed with your adviser and broached with the children. Equity release is classed as a loan of last report by ourselves
  • The initial release matches your needs for the first 12 months of your spending plans i.e. don’t take any more than you actually need
  • You receive independent equity release advice from a FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) qualified adviser
  • The schemes recommended are members of the Equity Release Council (ERC) which ensures they come with the equity release code of conduct indoctrinated
  • You receive separate legal representation from that of the lenders. As from 2014, this will need to involve a face-to-face meeting with your solicitor for added protection
  • You receive a Key Facts Illustration and Suitability Report covering all aspects of your adviser’s recommendation including set up costs, interest rate, future balance & early repayment charges.

 

I have personally seen the benefit equity release has made and have the testimonials to show the satisfaction & difference a lifetime mortgage can make to someone’s life.

If taken for the right reasons, under the right circumstances and with the right advice, equity release schemes can prove to be the right choice.

 

If you require further information on whether equity release schemes could be the right choice for you, please contact Barry Adnams on 07989 281108 or email barry@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

 
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