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Posts Tagged ‘Safe Home Income Plans’

Equity Release – The Only Way is Ethics

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

With news that equity release schemes are becoming more of a mainstream mortgage for the over 55’s, we look at how the equity release market is regulating the protection of its consumers.

 

We have all heard the stories of how equity release schemes are bad for you and the local gossip columnists berating the expense of these plans. However, the equity release industry has come a long way since the original equity release plans were offered in 1965 when the average house price was approximately £4,000!

 

Why was regulation introduced?

It was the earlier version of equity release schemes that started creating a stir. Back in 1988 a new type of plan was introduced called a ‘home income plan’. They relied on using two financial instruments – an annuity or investment bond to provide an income, which in turn paid an interest only mortgage that raised the initial capital. The annuity income would have been sufficient to not only pay the mortgage but also provide additional funds to supplement the applicant’s income.

 

In 1988, the principles of the scheme were sound. However, there was no account taken of how future interest rates may change after a years of economic stability. Therefore when interest rates rose steeply in 1990 and property prices fell significantly, there were unfortunate cases of people experiencing negative equity. Additionally, as a consequence of higher interest rates, the annuity income became insufficient to cover the monthly mortgage payments, thereby wiping out the residual personal income also. These home income plans were subsequently banned.

 

The launch of SHIP

Such disastrous events were the catalyst for greater regulation of these equity release type products and led to providers in this market forming a coalition. This was heralded as SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans) and was introduced in 1991 to protect the holders of such schemes and their beneficiaries.

 

Further bad news

However, the problems were not answered immediately. During the mid 1990’s we had certain banks – Barclays and Bank of Scotland introducing SAM’s (Shared Appreciation Mortgages). These schemes worked on the basis that the mortgagee released an amount of equity in return for a proportion of the house value. No monthly payments of interest were required. However, the banks took not just the current value, but also a percentage of the future value.

You may recall that the mid to late 1990’s house prices thereafter soared. The bias was obviously in the banks favour (no changes there) to the tune of approximately three to one in their favour in any property escalation.

These schemes were consequently withdrawn and we are still hearing stories in the news today about people who took out SAM’s & have no redress financially from the FSA.

 

Step forward the FSA

Sooner, rather than later the Financial Services Authority stepped in to regulate the market & by 2004 the Government had brought forth legislation protecting lifetime mortgage customers. The protection didn’t just stop with the schemes; financial advisers now came under the auspices of the FSA and had to meet certain criteria to be able to provide equity release advice.

The FSA then introduced the Financial Ombudsman Service and put the FSA Compensation scheme in place to recompense people who had been mis-sold. Previously, applicants only had the courts as protection and taking on the banks could prove an expensive exercise.

By 2007, Home Reversion schemes were also governed by the FSA leading to stricter controls on all types of equity release schemes.

 

By this time some of the major equity release companies such as Norwich Union (now Aviva) and Northern Rock had joined SHIP. Equity release schemes started going through innovation with drawdown equity release plans becoming popular and being released initially by Prudential, Just Retirement & Hodge Lifetime. With mixed attitudes towards beneficiary’s inheritance, we had the introduction of interest only lifetime mortgages from Stonehaven which allowed some, or all of the interest charged being paid off.

So, not only has the market emphasis changed towards regulation, but also the products themselves have seen massive changed in concept and design.

 

Further peace of mind – legals

So far we have talked about how the FSA has helped regulate the market and the equity release companies themselves designing better products, but what about the equity release process itself?

 

The legal aspects of equity release have now been indoctrinated within the SHIP rules. It is here that extra layers of protection have been provided by the equity release solicitors and provide the final checks of the equity application process. From checking the identity of the applicants, establishing genuine reasons for the raising of capital, particularly when gifting to family and ensuring legal title & conveyancing thereof, solicitors have an important role to play.

 

Under SHIP rules, two solicitors must be involved – one for the applicant & the second on behalf of the lender. This is to ensure there is no conflict of interest and protect both the lender & equity release customer. The applicant’s solicitor must also sign a SHIP certificate to state he is satisfied that all aspects of the equity release have been brought to their attention, implications & that the rules of ‘caveat emptor’ persist. Until the SHIP certificate is signed then no equity release application can complete.

 

SHIP update

Further rebranding of SHIP was felt necessary as the market grew and a louder voice was felt necessary for the equity release market as a whole. After much debate it was proposed that ‘The Equity Release Council’ would provide the new voice of the industry. SHIP has now moved on and hopefully the feeling and attitude to all things equity release. It has travelled much distance since 1965 and overcome some dark days along the way.

 

Nevertheless, this is a new dawn for the equity release industry. With greater trust, greater demand and greater product innovation still to come the future is looking bright for the protection of its customers.

 

If you are considering equity release and need assistance on receiving the best equity release advice call the team on 0800 678 5159.

 

Home Reversion Can Still Play a Part in the Whole Equity Release Scheme of Things

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Home reversion schemes have literally had their nose pushed out of the equity release market upon entering the year 2012. There has been a significant rise in the popularity of lifetime mortgage plans; including drawdown equity release schemes, enhanced equity release schemes & interest only lifetime mortgages.

Figures produced by SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans) show that home reversion plans now only account for 2% of the whole equity release sales. Drawdown lifetime mortgages popularity has captured 62% of applications & conventional lump sum equity release sales amount to 36%.

It is clearly evident to see the sincere lack of home reversion applications. Here we look at the mis-conceptions surrounding home reversion schemes & why they must still be considered in the overall equity release scheme of things!

 

First let’s look at the home reversion plan basics..

The home reversion scheme requires the property owner to sell part or all of their property in return for a tax free lump sum. The lump sum offered by the reversion company will always be at a discount to the percentage sold. The reason for this is that the applicants can remain living in the property for the rest of their lives, rent free. Significantly, it could be some time before the home reversion lender receives their money.

No interest element is attached to home reversion schemes. Unlike lifetime mortgages, home reversion offers guarantees as to the percentage of the property that will pass to the beneficiaries at the end of the day. This stems from the initial decision made as to how much of the property’s title is transferred to the lender. For example, if 55% of the property is sold in exchange for a lump sum, then this will still guarantee 45% of the eventual sale proceeds will pass to the beneficiaries. This is a major advantage of home reversion schemes over lifetime mortgages & provides peace of mind.

 

So why the lethargy surrounding home reversion plans?

Perhaps one of the major stigmas attached is the fact that you will not own your property 100%. The reversion provider will co-own the property with you, thus having a greater say in its maintenance & future planning of the home. They will have the right to inspect the house at regular intervals to ensure it is maintained adequately, thus protecting their security. Any major home improvements will also need their permissions in case you were thinking of extensions or knocking down walls!

Another consideration would be upon moving home or wanting to sell. At this point an equity release calculation would need to be undertaken to establish how much equity you own based on current value upon transfer across to the new abode. Therefore independent valuations would need to be conducted to ascertain current market value. This could prove difficult in today’s market with a lack of sales & depressed housing market.

The one danger of home reversion plans is upon early death. Home reversion would prove expensive should you die or move into care in the earlier years of inception. Effectively, you have given up a large portion of your home based on average life expectancy. If you fail to reach this date, then home reversion could prove a poor decision. On the flip side, if longevity is in your family genes, then home reversion could be a great decision. Oh the virtues of a crystal ball!

Nevertheless, this aspect of the housing doldrums could actually have a positive accent as to why a home reversion plan could be more advantageous than a lifetime mortgage scheme.  By taking out a home reversion scheme in anticipation that property values will remain static could prove beneficial. Afterall you are guaranteed that at the end of the day some equity will remain as you have a percentage of the property value guaranteed.

Compare this to lifetime mortgage schemes where the roll-up of interest compounds yearly & will continue escalating until the plan expires. In this situation, should property values remain static, then with a continuously rising mortgage balance & static house prices, will lead to the eventual erosion of the equity. This could be so much so, that NO equity remains at the end of the day with a lifetime mortgage.

 

So why should you consider a home reversion scheme?

As you can see the home reversion plan offers a sense of assurance which is not possible with many other equity release schemes. With the progress in medical science, the human body is capable of living much longer. Age therefore plays a major role in this equity release plan with a minimum starting age of 65. Indeed, the older one gets before taking out a home reversion scheme the better the terms that will be offered by the lender. The resultant effect of this is the older the homeowner, the more is paid as a capital lump sum.

 

Some of the negative issues surrounding home reversion schemes have been addressed by the providers – Bridgewater, New Life Mortgages & Hodge Lifetime. Particularly Bridgewater have considered many of these issues & allayed such fears by building in a series of plan options. Similar to drawdown lifetime mortgages, Bridgewater offer a flexible equity release plan which allows you to sell less than 100% of the home & still provide the guarantee of future withdrawals in the future.

 

Another home reversion plan flexible feature could be a ‘secured escalating release’ option which allows you to release a lump sum of cash now, together with a future income over a number of years. This is achieved with the use of annuities.

Finally, some home reversion plans could also offer protection on early death, so always make the necessary enquiries before entering into a long term financial commitment.

 

Home reversion redemption

The home reversion company will eventually receive their money by selling the property when the occupier has died or moved into long term care. Additionally, this type of home equity scheme offers the property owner the ability to change properties. This is a requirement of SHIP (Safe Home Income Plan).

Always take the assistance of an independent financial advisor so that they can help estimate the value of your property and help you decide on the scheme best suited to your requirements. Equity release is very beneficial for retired individuals who do not have a steady flow of income or require a capital lump sum for lifestyle improvements. One of the products that could succeed with these bequests could be the home reversion scheme as it offers stability, guarantees for your children and allows you to enjoy a worry free, rent free retirement.

 

For home reversion advice contact the specialists at Equity Release Supermarket on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

No Early Repayment Charge Equity Release Plan Launched by Hodge Lifetime

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Following in the steps of the Stonehaven Interest Select plan, Hodge Lifetime are launching a new equity release plan with repayment options that include NO early repayment charges.

Previously, only Stonehaven equity release had created a niche in the lifetime mortgage market by offering an interest only lifetime mortgage. Stonehaven allow you the facility to repay the interest charged monthly, thus maintaining a level balance.

However, Hodge Lifetime has now created their own niche product, by offering a roll-up equity release plan with a spin. The unique feature of the plan is the facility of allowing partial repayments of upto 10% per annum with no penalty. This is a first in this previously inflexible early repayment charge equity release UK market.

 

The Mechanics

The option to repay without penalty applies after the plan has been running for at least 12 months. You then have the possibility of repaying all of the interest & an even an element of capital, if you wish. The minimum repayment is £500.

The major advantage of this lifetime mortgage is that no penalty would apply to this repayment as long as no more than 10% of the initial capital borrowed is repaid.

An example of this would be someone borrowing £25,000 initially. After, 12 months of the plan running they can then repay upto £2,500 each year thereafter. With a launch interest rate of just 6.31% annual equivalent, by paying the full 10% allowance would allow you to repay not only the interest but also the capital. The Hodge Lifetime Plan could then effectively be even used as a form of flexible lifetime repayment mortgage!

 

Background to Hodge Lifetime

Hodge Lifetime introduced the very first equity release plans in 1965 and have continued to earn a reputation for reliability ever since. Hodge Lifetime is a subsidiary of Julian Hodge Bank and is a founder member of SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans).

 

Plan Facts

The Hodge Lifetime Lump Sum Lifetime Mortgage allows you to take a single cash lump sum with a fixed interest rate for life. Plans start at age 60 & there is a minimum property value of £100,000 with a £20,000 minimum initial withdrawal limit. The plan is available in England, Wales & mainland Scotland.

Hodge Lifetime’s standard early repayment charges only apply for the first 5 years on a 5,4,3,2,1 basis. There is also an additional potential variable repayment charge dependent upon the movement in 25 year interest rate swap rates.

However, this variable penalty will be waived after 5 years. This ‘Downsizing Protection’ feature allows you to repay the Hodge Equity Release Plan with NO penalty if you move home after 5 years.

However, the main focus surely on the Hodge Lifetime Lump Sum equity release plan will be possibility of repayment the interest with a choice of when & how much.

No other equity release schemes provider will permit this at present with so much flexibility. Hodge will allow two payments per annum subject to the 10% maximum repayment & no penalty.

 

Who Would the Repayment Facility Benefit?

People who maybe wish to inhibit the traditional roll-up effect of their equity release plan would find the Hodge Lifetime plan of benefit.

Those unable to commit to a fixed monthly repayment as their preferred choice would be to make ad-hoc repayments once a cash sum has been saved.
People who may receive an unexpected windfall in the future
Parents who may wish to gift to their children for financial reasons (e.g. house purchase) knowing they will be repaid over a future term
Those at Pre-state pension age, need a capital lump sum now, but may wish to repay chunks back in the future from their extra income
The list could go on…

 

What to do next…

If you have been dissuaded by equity release early repayment charges in the past, then take a close look at this exciting new plan from Hodge Lifetime. The ability to repay 10% off the balance each year with NO penalty is unique.

With an opening offer of a reduced valuation fee of £99 for property values upto £350,000, this certainly looks likely to follow hot on the heels of Stonehaven’s Interest Select Plan.

 

For further information or to request a quote please visit Equity Release Supermarket’s dedicated Hodge Lifetime Lump Sum equity release page. Alternatively call the team on 0800 678 5159.

 

Reasons to Consider an Interest Only Lifetime Mortgage

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

What is an interest only lifetime mortgage? Well there are many reasons to look into interest only lifetime mortgages in order to meet the financial challenges in our current economic climate.

An interest only mortgage should always be considered before a roll-up equity release or home reversion plan. If you are looking towards protecting your inheritance & wish to pass the full estate to your beneficiaries then an only interest mortgage will do as it says on the tin. By borrowing a fixed amount & repayment of just the interest element will mean that the balance will remain exactly the same.

 

Example of an Interest Only Lifetime Mortgage

The interest only lifetime mortgage is an especially useful product for those over 55, as there are specialist equity release style interest only lifetime mortgages available. Often these plans provide historically attractive interest rates and features that assist those in retirement to plan their financial futures. Consider Stonehaven equity release, who offer several forms of their Interest Select Plan which is effectively a non-verification lifetime mortgage. With this plan you can effectively borrow a percentage of the value of the property & you can chose how much of the interest to pay – starting from £25pm upto the full interest payment.

 

What Purposes can it be used for?

Many people who are looking to consolidate debts will find the Stonehaven Interest Select style of interest only lifetime mortgage to be an attractive option for getting all debts under one single interest only payment. This kind of debt consolidation means that the actual total amount borrowed and paid monthly is thereby reduced & hopefully under control. Additionally, the lower interest payments are likely to be less than payments made over many other debts due to the considerably lower interest rates charged by credit card companies & alike.

 

Overall, this makes the payment of debts easier, as Stonehaven will automatically take payment by direct debit, and easy to plan as the total amount is taken monthly. The fixed interest rate option on an interest only mortgage is a very attractive offer. This means that regardless of the Bank of England manipulating conventional interest rates, the Stonehaven interest select plan will always remain exactly the same. For this reason and these features, is why the Stonehaven Interest Select and Stonehaven Interest Select lite (has lowest fixed interest rate at 6.13%) are so popular. More details about these plans can be found on the Equity Release Supermarket website.

 

Are Alternative Equity release Schemes Available?

There are alternative options available for those looking for equity release schemes, including other options for interest only lifetime mortgages. These could depend upon location such as Scotland & certain counties within England where we have access to specialist lenders.  It is therefore important to discuss what is right for you with an accredited independent equity release advisor who has access to the whole of the equity release & interest only mortgage market.

 

Another place to research equity release schemes and interest only lifetime mortgages is the Safe Home Income Plans (SHIP) website, which acts as a consumer safety watchdog for elderly financial products. The Stonehaven equity release products are all registered with SHIP, so these products also come with this important peace of mind. They also have the protection of being regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) thereby coming under the auspices of their compensation scheme.

 

There are many reasons for those over 55 years of age to consider equity release. Many often wonder what is an interest only mortgage? They also wonder what the best options are for their specific needs and situation. While a financial advisor is best placed to help, researching SHIP qualified products like the Stonehaven Interest Select interest only lifetime mortgages often help get started.

The Equity Release Supermarket website is also a useful place to start learning about the ‘ins and outs’ of equity release. There is a lot to learn, so be sure to speak to one of our specialist financial advisers as early as possible and often to be clear about the direction your enquiry is heading.

 

Call our Freephone number 0800 678 5159 for further details on Interest Only Lifetime Mortgage Plans.

Alternatively, follow this link to request a Stonehaven equity release quote.

 

Need To Learn More About Equity Release Schemes?

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

An increase in the standard of living & more recently inflation levels has caused a shortfall in pension provision. This is now affecting all those people who are on the verge of, or now in retirement. So for those retirees who are on fixed incomes, how can they allay their fears of personal budget shortfalls?

Well consider equity release schemes as an effective solution to this problem. If you are looking for some more information, this guide will help you understand the lifetime mortgage schemes available.

 

What is an equity release scheme?

Equity release schemes allow you to release equity tied up within your home. These schemes are very popular amongst individuals who are entering, or now into the retirement phase of life. Thus, retirees can therefore overcome any shortfall in their income by utilising the tied up tax free cash within the value of their home. Equity release schemes provide pensioners with a steady flow of income thereby helping them to maintain and improve their quality of life. Additionally, in recognition of the demand for irregular tax free cash, drawdown equity release schemes can now provide flexibility.

 

Equity release is used to cover financial products that release home equity. However, they need not require any monthly payments & therefore do not affect retirement budget. It is very important to keep in mind that equity release schemes can only be considered for people who are above 55 years of age. For home reversion schemes this minimum age is increased to age 65 in lieu of the manner these schemes operate.

 

Lifetime mortgage plans are becoming increasingly popular amongst retired individuals. They provide a lump sum amount based on a combination of the age of the youngest homeowner & the property value.

The younger this age is, the lower the loan-to-value.

In contrast for those more elderly can release a percentage of the property upto 54%.

 

A few other benefits of SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans) equity release schemes are:

  • Improved standard of living
  • Portable mortgage to another property
  • A fixed rate of interest for life
  • No monthly payment or instalments required
  • No negative equity guarantee

 

Equity release is an ideal option when it comes to securing your future. If you find the process confusing, it is highly important to consult an equity release advisor such as Equity Release Supermarket. With access to market leading deals & special interest rates they can research the whole of the equity release market to find the best equity release deal available.

 

If you require advice on which equity release is suitable for you, contact the Equity Release Supermarket team on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

Looking For Some More Information On Equity Release Schemes? Read on…

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Equity release schemes have become extremely popular amongst retired individuals due to their myriad of benefits. The most notable benefit of these form of lifetime mortgage is that you do not have to move out of your home to get equity from your property & you have no monthly mortgage payments to make. Similar to any other financial scheme, it is important to consider your needs and requirements before you arrive at a decision.

Mentioned below are some important factors that you need to understand before selecting an equity release scheme.

 

No negative equity guarantee

Most equity release schemes have a no negative equity guarantee provided free of charge & automatically incorporated into any SHIP equity release plan. A no negative equity guarantee will ensure that your outstanding debt will never exceed the overall value of your property. At the same time, any outstanding debt will not be transferred to your family after you pass away. Therefore, your beneficiaries can be safe in the knowledage that by you taking equity now, will not make you pay for it later.

 

Moving to a new property

It should be noted that moving to a new property is permitted by the equity release provider you choose to go with. However, as long as the property you are moving to is of standard construction & if leasehold has a lease still in excess of 75 years then it should still be possible to transfer your scheme. Because of this reason, it is recommended to look for a reutable equity release scheme that caters to your specific needs. Again, all equity release schemes that are members of SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans) must have this facility to transfer the mortgage built within the terms.

If you are looking to downsize, then a repayment maybe required to bring the amount riased in line with the equity release providers loan to value. This amount would usually come from the equity that has been raised by downsizing so there would be no need for alarm. Additionally, as you are making some form of repayment, then NO early repayment charge would be applied by the lifetime mortgage provider.

 

Criteria

It should be noted that you will need to meet the equity release companies criteria to become eligible for equity release schemes. For starters, you need to be at least 55 years of age & own your own home. At the same time, the market value of your home should be at least £60,000, although some equity lenders do impose higher valuations so check beforehand. Ensuring you meet these criterion’s will help if you are planning to opt for one of best equity release plans.
However, help is always on hand. Therefore to establish whether equity release is the correct path for you to follow then speak to the specialists at Equity Release Supermarket. Call freephone 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

Home Reversions Still Offer Greater Certainty

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Upon researching whether equity release is a suitable option, you may be finding most of the information available in the press or on the internet focuses on the main types of plans available which are Roll-Up Lifetime Mortgages.

 

There is in fact another type of plan which is less commonly understood and these are called Home Reversion plans.

I think it’s important to consider these plans in more depth. Increasingly home reversions are become more appropriate for those considering taking an equity release plan, particularly if those looking for a simple plan giving a high degree of certainty.

A home reversion plan involves transferring ownership of all or part of your property to the provider in exchange for a tax free cash lump sum (or you can choose regular payments). Your property is independently valued and from this the provider will work out how much they will pay you for the percentage of the property being sold.

 

The amount you’re paid wont be as much as the market value of the property. This is simply because you will be living there rent free for the rest of your life (or until moving out permanently into long term care). As a “rule of thumb” the older you are the more the home reversion provider will pay you for the share sold, that’s because your life expectancy is less. You are still responsible for paying all your bills, insurance and maintaining the property. At the end of the plan the property is sold and if you’ve retained part of it, your share of the proceeds will be paid to your estate.

 

When considering a home reversion company, it’s important to choose a provider who is a member of the trade body Safe Home Income Plans. SHIP members offer a guarantee to their customers, the main benefits of this are that you’re allowed to remain in your property for life (provided the property remains your main residence) and you have the right to move plan to another suitable property without any financial penalty. Plus of course you have the safeguard of independent legal advice.

Home reversions are also regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) which oversees how providers and advisers must deal with you. And finally, because home reversions involve the sale of property a third level of extra consumer protection is given by UK property law, which governs the relationship with the provider and their obligations towards you.

 

So what type of people are home reversion schemes most suitable for?

Well it really boils down to your thoughts and concerns. As a guide a reversion might be more appropriate for someone who falls into some or all of the following categories:

  • Customers who want to specifically avoid debt – a home reversion plan is not a mortgage & cannot therefore be repossessed
  • Those concerned house prices won’t keep going up – the risk of falling house prices is passed to the provider
  • People in good health and confident that they may live for many more years to come (for example there may be a history of longevity in the family) – generally the longer you live the better value a reversion becomes
  • Anyone wanting the peace of mind of knowing that if they need to in the future, they can access the maximum cash from their remaining equity – some providers will guarantee to always release further funds until 100% of the property is sold
  • Clients wanting to guarantee an inheritance for their estate – for example if only 25% of the property is sold, the estate will inherit 75% of its value after costs
  • Those wanting to release more cash from their property than they can by using a lifetime mortgage

 

Naturally home reversion plans are not for everyone. Generally you will only be eligible to take a reversion plan if you are 65 or older. Ideally, to get the better rates you would need to be over age 70.

As reversions are a long term commitment they should not be considered if you intend to repay the money released at some stage in the future (for example if you’re expecting an inheritance).

If you are in poor health or expect to have below average life expectancy then you may not get full value from a reversion either. However, we do have access to products now that do offer an impaired life (poor health) facility & therefore can provide an extra lump sum for this reason.

 

For those unfamiliar with how a reversion works there is understandably a little concern about giving up all or part ownership of your property.

The reality is that the terms and conditions of a reversion (ie the “small print”) are similar to that of equity release and your right to privacy and freedom to live in your own home are not affected.

 

Usually with a home reversion you are granted a lease for life to live in the property for as long as you wish to. And this important legal arrangement is recorded by HM Land Registry much the same as a leasehold flat or house is. So although you may have sold all or part of the property to the provider it still very much remains your home.

The decision to release equity from your home using a home reversion plan or a lifetime mortgage is an important one and you will need specialist advice from a Financial Adviser in order to do so. They can talk to you about whether equity release is right for you and if it is what sort of product best suits your particular needs.

 

To obtain further information on Home Reversion schemes, please contact an Equity Release Supermarket adviser on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

Equity Release Schemes – Do The Sums Actually Add Up?

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

The main concern of equity release schemes is the reduced inheritance which is passed down to beneficiaries. Here we discuss the pro’s & con’s of roll-up equity release plans.

 

First, let’s look at the effect on the beneficiaries & the source of the causes for concern. This then leads us to the equity release calculator with facts & figures showing how these schemes fair for the beneficiaries on final redemption of the plan.

 

Ok, we’ve have all heard the saying; bad news travels faster than good news & this is synonymous with terminology ‘equity release’.

Although equity release plans were initiated in 1965, the news damaging these schemes generally dates back to the late 1980’s when the first home income plans were launched.

Linked to an annuities or regular income investment bonds & an interest only mortgage, plans such as these were destined to fail, relying heavily on investment performance in a period of falling property values & rapidly rising interest rates.

 

The mid 90’s then introduced the much derided & chastened Shared Appreciation Mortgages (SAM’s), the focus of most causes for campaigns against equity release including Trevor MacDonald’s Tonight TV programme.

Therefore, its no wonder the industries reputation was soured.

 

So what has the equity release industry done about repairing this negative sentiment?

At the time of the SAM’s debacle, SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans) was launched. Formed from its originators – Ecclesiastical Life, Hodge Equity Release, Home & Capital Trust & GE Life all members agreed to abide by a strict code of conduct, which still exists today.

Soon new lenders entered the equity release market, with household names such as Norwich Union & Northern Rock with their newly developed roll-up equity release schemes bringing a significant boost & trust to the industry.

Although equity release schemes began to blossom around 2003 with approximately 25,000 equity release loans completed, a lack of regulation still overshadowed the equity release sector. The market was still somewhat bighted by the previous misdemeanours.

 

Thankfully, partial regulation was soon imposed on the equity release industry with lifetime mortgages coming under the auspices of the Financial Services Authority on 31st October 2004. Home reversions soon joined lifetime mortgage schemes & by 2007 full regulation & confidence was brought back to the equity release marketplace.

Therefore, the market has evolved & strived to restore pride; a far cry from the negative perceptions of decades ago.

 

So what does this all mean for today’s beneficiaries?

The main ‘clean up act’ came with the introduction of SHIP & its rules imposed on the members. The ‘no negative equity guarantee’ affords the greatest level of protection the industry has to offer.

Safe in the knowledge that any amount borrowed by their parents can never escalate to more than the eventual sale price of the property, they are at least guaranteed no debt can be passed onto themselves.

A crumb of comfort maybe, but certainly peace of mind for parents.

 

As an equity release adviser, encouragement must always be shown to involve the heirs to the estate. With their input & assurance, feelings can then be vented either for or against equity release being taken as for many this is a major financial proposition.

Again qualified advisers should play an important role in explaining the pro’s & con’s of equity release mortgages & convey these issues to all parties concerned.

 

What else does the equity release sector afford by way of protection?

Interest rates for home equity release schemes, albeit not the lowest ever, are still historically low. One positive feature of these schemes is the lifetime fixed rate on all equity release loans now.

 

So what is the benefit of this?

If you borrowed an amount of capital, with a fixed interest rate for life it enables you to calculate the exact future balance.

This is building further reassurance for potential equity release applicants.

We know the equity release balance escalates over the lifetime of the scheme; this is the nature of plans & should never be entered into unless this has been clearly explained. The effect of the interest compounding annually, approximately doubles the balance every 10-11 years, depending on interest rate charged by the equity release companies.

 

Sounds daunting? Well, let’s now look at the sums as promised earlier:

One of the lowest interest rates around at present would be the Aviva Lifetime Lump Sum scheme, which  currently has a fixed interest rate of 6.65% (6.9% APR) annual.

 

A male, aged 65 borrowing a lump sum of £25,000 on the 6.65% Aviva Lifestyle lump sum would know exactly what the future balance will be, even before taking out the equity release scheme. The Key Facts Illustration provided by the equity release adviser will confirm these figures & also the costs & additional features involved.

For instance, based on a release of £25,000 in this scenario would lead to a balance in 10 years of £47,594 & after 20 years would be £90,606.

This may seem expensive given only £25,000 was borrowed initially; however there are two factors that could still rule in the equity releases favour.
One common issue overlooked is the potential for property prices to increase. If so, & with 100% ownership of the house still retained the homeowner will fully benefit from any future escalation in the house price. This will then offset some of the compounding effect of the interest & mitigate its effect on the overall estate. Again, we are looking longer term & no guarantee can be given prices will go up; nevertheless historical data confirms they still have.

As a consequence, a rule of thumb is never to borrow anymore than required beyond the initial 12 months. Plans are now flexible enough with drawdown schemes being available that funds can even be drip fed over time as & when required.

Hence, by taking a lower initial amount would result in less interest being charged, meaning more inheritance passed to the beneficiaries.

 

 

The second factor affecting the balance accruing & is the main cause of equity release roll-up is purely down the fact that NO monthly payments are required. This helps retirees to have access to the equity tied up in their property & at the same time leave their budget unaffected.

Nevertheless, equity release schemes do have an increasing role in retirement planning for the over 55’s. Care must always be taken & never rushed into without discussion & involvement of third parties.

Advice should always be provided by an industry qualified equity release consultant. If so, & in the right circumstances equity release can provide a comfortable & enjoyable retirement.

 

Finally, hopefully lessons have been learned from the past & the industry can move forward, innovate & develop further over time.

 

To discuss any of these issues & with no obligation whatsoever, please contact the Equity Release Supermarket team on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityrelease supermarket.co.uk

 

Equity Release – Five Factors To Consider Before Taking A Decision

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

Do you need extra more money during your retirement?

If the answer is yes, then equity release can be an ideal solution. Today, many equity release companies exist who provide different mortgage schemes to homeowners who are above 55 years of age. By opting for these schemes, you can release equity or money against the value of your home. Before taking a final decision, it is important to consider few factors. These include:

 

Flexibility – You have to check how flexible your equity release plan is. Choose the scheme which allows you to draw more money or allows you to sell the property, if required. There are lenders who also allow the applicant to make ad-hoc repayments off the balance (subject to early repayment charges)

Fees – The fees for purchasing equity release schemes depend on the provider. Consideration should be given to the plan whose fees are the lowest. Nevertheless, this shouldn’t be classed as the over riding factor. Special offers such as cashbacks, free valuations all help to keep the costs down. Check with Equity Release Supermarket to see what offers they can find you.

Interest rates – Similar to fees, the interest can vary on the basis of the scheme or mortgage chosen. Before choosing, it is recommended to compare the interest rates of different schemes. Rates currently can vary from as low as 6.59% up to 7.59% & this can have a massive effect on the final balance at the end of the day. Always check aswell that the interest rate being quoted is annual. Some equity release companies quote on a monthly & some annual basis. A monthly interest rate of 6.59% is actually higher than an annual interest rate of 6.59%, due to the quicker compounding effect of monthly v annual interest.

S.H.I.P (Safe Home Income Plans) – This is an organisation which was set up to protect the rights of consumers or purchasers of home equity schemes. Whichever scheme you choose, ensure that the lender is a member of this organisation. As a result of using a ship equity release company, means that the solicitor will have to sign a SHIP certificate to say that they have acted on the clients behalf & they understand what they are entering into. Additionally, being a member of SHIP means the scheme has to meet certain criteria – to be able to be repaid; to be able to move house & inlcude a no negative equity release guarantee.

Financial Services Authority (FSA) – The FSA is a regulatory body in the UK which takes care of the rules and regulations followed by the financial companies. Always choose a company which is registered with the FSA thus affording the protection the FSA provide.

 

It is advisable to hire a qualified financial consultant before investing in any one of the equity release schemes currently available in the market.

Equity Release Supermarket have experienced advisers who can source the whole of the market to find the best equity release deal for you.

Call freephone 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket to discuss your requirements further.

 

Want To Retire Comfortably? Opt For An Equity Release Scheme

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Today, equity release schemes are preferred by many people because they help unlock money against the value of their homes. If you are 55 years of age or older and facing financial constraints then you should consider equity release schemes. They are specifically designed for older people who own their own home and seek to live a better life.

 

How do equity release schemes work?

With the help of these schemes, you can obtain 15% to 50% of the value of your property. To qualify for equity release, you must also have no or very little outstanding debts. If you have any secured debts then they must be fully repaid, either before or actually on completion. In exchange for a value of your property, the lenders will pay you a lump sum amount of money or a monthly payment.

 

Two different types of equity release scheme

To fulfill different needs, two different types of equity release schemes have been introduced. These include lifetime mortgages and home reversion plans.

If you choose a lifetime mortgage, you can receive a lump sum amount of cash against your property. The best thing about this scheme is that the repayment is made when the homeowner dies or moves to a care home. Today, different types of lifetime mortgages have been introduced by different financial institutions.

 

Home reversion plans allow you to sell a part or all of your property in exchange for a cash payment. You will receive a lifetime tenancy agreement & have no rent to pay for the rest of your life.

All equity release schemes we advise on are regulated by the FSA (Financial Services Authority) & are members of SHIP (Safe Home Income Plans).

 

To establish which of the two lifetime mortgage schemes are suitable for your requirements, contact the Equity Release Supermarket team on 0800 678 5159.

 

 
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