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Posts Tagged ‘Retirement’

Why London Housing Statistics show Equity Release on the Agenda

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

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

 

Equity Release Defined

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

 

The London Housing Market

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

 

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

 

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

 

Agenda – Lifetime Mortgage

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Inheritance Factors are Imperative

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

 

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

 

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

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 on Divorce -‘A House is not a Home?’

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

An increasing phenomenon in later life is the number of couples who are now deciding to divorce.

 

Often having lived together but had separate lives for many years, retirement then can seem the final straw in their relationship. Perhaps the knowledge of the impending hours of greater social time together once retirement arises is the most common reason!

 

Nevertheless, statistics show increasing numbers are deciding to end their marriages in retirement and move on, once their children have left home. This works well for many people, but one of the major problems of divorce in retirement is dividing assets when you are approaching or have reached the end of your earning power.

 

Someone who was set for a comfortable retirement as part of a couple may well be struggling as a single person on half the assets. The marital home is often a bone of contention because it is usually the most valuable asset and often represents stability and security to the occupants.

 

However, pensions can also create many issues & this will be discussed in a separate article including pension sharing on divorce with offsetting & earmarking being the methods of distribution.

 

With reference to the marital home, equity release can often help in these situations. The person who remains in the marital home can release cash from the value of the property either by a lifetime mortgage or a home reversion plan to ensure that the spouse receives their share of the property.

 

In most cases, it would not be possible for the person living in the marital home to take out a conventional mortgage because they may not have enough income to support it. However, by taking out a lifetime mortgage or a home reversion plan, they know they can stay in their home for life without having to make repayments during their lifetime.

 

‘A house is not a home’ may be easy to understand in normal circumstances but in the context of divorce, particularly from a woman’s point of view, a home is where you nurture and provide for those you love and care for and where you feel secure. Divorce is a traumatic time when normal life is disrupted. If it’s possible to maintain some security by doing a lifetime mortgage or home reversion plan to keep your home, many would take that option.

 

So How Can Equity Release Assist?

Well depending on the percentage split to each party, whether it is 50/50 or similar proportion, equity release could contribute either partial or in full towards the settlement. However this would be dependent on age. The size of the equity release is calculated based on the age of the youngest party & in some circumstances the health of the remaining party.

 

For example at age 60 the maximum release could only be provided by a roll-up lifetime mortgage & the percentage currently is only 26%. Nevertheless at age 65 a lifetime mortgage can release 31%, however a reversion scheme can also now be considered. As age increases, so do the percentages, to the extent that at age 80 one can release a maximum of 46% on a lifetime mortgage & 56% on a reversion scheme.

 

In circumstances of ill health, some lenders will even increase the home reversions 56% giving a more favourable lump sum based on an impaired life facility. Therefore, via a combination of negotiation of existing assets & the application of equity release could result in the remaining party not having to move or downsize at a distressing time.

 

This enables stability throughout the remainder of their retirement..or until a new partner is found!

 

For further information on raising equity on divorce call 0800 678 5159.

e: mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

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

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 
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