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3rd July 2024

Higher interest rates and living costs are changing the equity release landscape, as people look to tap into the value of their home to ensure they and their family are comfortable. But how does equity release work? equity release family

Substantial house price growth in recent decades and rising living costs have left many people in a unique predicament: they own a very valuable asset but at the same time they might be struggling to make ends meet, or at least achieve a  comfortable retirement.

Retirees who previously would have sought to downsize and buy a cheaper home to free up funds are now having second thoughts due to the excessive costs involved in moving. From seller and solicitor fees to stamp duty and moving costs, not to mention the money often required to get a new home to how you want it, these costs can amount to tens of thousands. When the goal of moving is to free up money, it can end up being counterproductive.

Fortunately, an alternative option to tapping into the value of your home, without actually having to move or give up ownership, is available and it has grown increasingly popular over the last decade as it has become a regulated financing product for homeowners. Now, equity release is presenting unique opportunities for over-55s looking for ways to fund their lifestyle in retirement.

What is Equity Release?

Equity release is a way homeowners can draw a lump sum or regular sums from the value of their home while continuing to live in it. There are two options: lifetime mortgages and home reversion. This article focuses on lifetime mortgages, which are loans that don’t need to be paid back until you die or move into care, after which the house is sold to repay the lender. You retain ownership of the house until that point. Any surplus funds from the sale go to your beneficiaries.

Home reversion is when you sell part or all of your home to the loan provider, who gives you the legal right to continue living in the property. At Ascot Lloyd we deal only with lifetime mortgages as we believe you should be able to access capital without giving up ownership of your home.

How does Equity Release Work?

With lifetime mortgages, you needn’t make any repayments on the money you receive unless you choose to. Interest on the money is rolled up and compounded each year, and when you die or move into long-term care the total sum is repaid from the proceeds of your house sale.

Most products allow you to ring-fence some of the value of your home as inheritance for your family, and those offering the ‘no negative equity’ guarantee give you complete assurance that you won’t leave your family in debt even if what you owe exceeds what your home is sold for.

“The easiest way I explain equity release to clients is that it’s exactly the same as a normal mortgage except you don’t make payments for it, so your balance gradually goes up over time instead of down,” says Marie Dalrymple, equity release and mortgage specialist at Ascot Lloyd.

Is Equity Release Safe?

If you feel a hint of distrust towards equity release, it's probably because you recall some of the scary stories of people who bought into unregulated schemes in the late 80s to early 90s only to face spiralling debt and negative equity due to falling house prices and variable interest rates.

Though these stories may still stick in your mind, the reality is equity release is a very different proposition today. It is now fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, while the introduction of the Equity Release Council in 2012 has ensured high standards of conduct among companies offering equity release products, and robust safeguards for homeowners.

As a result of these crucial changes, you’ll never owe more than what your property is worth when it’s sold. ‘Security of tenure’, meanwhile, protects your right to stay in your home for life.

“Equity release is safe,” says Marie Dalrymple. “One of the biggest misconceptions I see is people thinking they’ll no longer own their home. There are other products which do involve you selling part of your home to the lender, however with lifetime mortgages you retain 100% ownership against which the mortgage loan is secured. Live long enough, with a big enough loan at a given rate of interest and this could mean there is no value left in the property when you have finished living in it.”

Equity Release Plan

Equity release has become so popular because it allows you to do something meaningful with an asset you own, without giving it up. Beyond simply funding people’s lifestyles in retirement, other use cases include supporting children, such as helping them get on the property ladder. Equity release funds are not subject to any taxation because it is a loan, not a form of income.

“It’s crazy really that people living in expensive homes are cold because they’re scared to turn on the heating or in pain because there’s a two-year wait for their hip operation on the NHS. Why suffer when you don’t have to?” says Dalrymple.

“Especially among people who don’t have anyone to leave their property to, I’ve seen a notable increase in utilising equity release to free up money for private healthcare, or just to enjoy life. It makes a lot of sense. Nobody wants to struggle, or see their children struggle, when they can just release equity in their home in a very protected way.”

Equity Release Advice

Your Ascot Lloyd independent financial adviser will review your individual circumstances and present the information you need to make the right equity release decision. If you decide to go ahead, they can assist you in exploring equity release rates and options and guide you through the entire process.

Being independent, our advisers aren’t bound to one specific financial product. We can explore the whole market to find an equity release product that truly works for you.

Ascot Lloyd offers independent advice on all aspects of equity release and has semi-exclusive access to some of the lowest equity release interest rates. Book a free call back to learn more.

 

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Our Financial Advisers are available on the phone so please contact us if you have any questions.

Important Information

Equity release isn’t right for everybody and every home, so it depends on you and your circumstances.

This communication is for information purposes only and is based on our understanding of current UK tax legislation and HM Revenue and Customs (“HMRC”).  Levels and bases of taxation and reliefs are subject to change and their value to you will depend on your personal circumstances. Nothing in this communication constitutes financial, professional or investment advice or a personal recommendation. Tax treatment depends on the individual circumstances of each client and may be subject to change in the future.

The FCA does not regulate inheritance tax planning.

This communication is for information purposes only. Nothing in this communication constitutes financial, professional or investment advice or a personal recommendation. This communication should not be construed as a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any securities or related financial instruments in any jurisdiction. No representation or warranty, either expressed or implied, is provided in relation to the accuracy, completeness or reliability of the information contained herein, nor is it intended to be a complete statement or summary of the securities, markets or developments referred to in the document.

Any opinions expressed in this document are subject to change without notice and may differ or be contrary to opinions expressed by other business areas or companies within the same group as Ascot Lloyd as a result of using different assumptions and criteria.

This communication is issued by Capital Professional Limited, trading as Ascot Lloyd.  Ground Floor Reading Bridge House, George Street, Reading, England, RG1 8LS.  Capital Professional Limited is registered in England and Wales (number 07584487) and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 578614).