The concept of lifetime mortgage to release the equity held in one’s property initially started somewhere in the mid of 1960s. It is based on a simple process to use the value of your property without having to move out of it. These schemes were not as popular then, as they are today because they were neither systematic nor regulated, which gave birth to several poorly devised products called Shared Appreciated Mortgages that made it look like a poor product in those times. Even today, we cannot forget the stigma that still lingers on amongst today’s elderly population in 1990s.
The government understood the need of regulating equity release schemes to provide consumer protection after the sad events that happened in 1990s. There was a need to protect the consumer rights which motivated the introduction of Safe Home Income Plan, abbreviated as SHIP. It laid down certain voluntary measures to be followed by the institutions offering these lifetime mortgage schemes to get their schemes included under the scope and definition of SHIP. Ship has now been superseded by the Equity Release Council (ERC) which lays down the precedents by which all equity release firms & advisers must adhere to.
These new equity release schemes that meet the ERC criteria have to leave the consumer with the right to repay the loan at anytime which secured against the mortgage of the property, if they want, although against some early repayment charges may be levied. It is even mentioned at www.equityrelease2go.com that all the lifetime mortgage plans must have the inclusion of no negative equity guarantee, so that the consumers need not worry about the liabilities stretching beyond the value of the property. With the increasing flexibility and portability, the consumers even got the rights to move to a houses freely and either transfer the equity release scheme or repay it.
All these schemes are today regulated under the guidelines laid down by FSA as well as Equity Release Council. In 2004, the Financial Services Authority fully regulated these schemes as well as the institutions offering these schemes so as to guard the interest of consumers at large all across UK.
Home reversion plans were merged with lifetime mortgages under the guidance of FSA in 2007. Today, these schemes offer greater flexibility to the consumers, enhanced plans for people suffering from several health ailments as well as the options of only paying interests through the interest only lifetime mortgage plan.
Lifetime mortgage schemes have evolved today as one of best products available, in the right place, at the right time to enhance the lifestyle of people even beyond the age of 55.
It is all very well to own a real estate property, but when it comes to day to day life, what is required is cold, hard cash flow! One way of turning a home into cash is to sell the property and move into another place. Another option is to get an equity release mortgage on the property. Equity release schemes allow you to free up some of the value built up on the property without the need to sell or move out.
One of the main attractions of equity release is the fact that it allows you to continue living in the same house, while giving you the flexibility to use up a portion of the equity built up on the property as cash. This is essentially a loan, which is repaid to the equity release provider once the house is sold. So when is the house sold? Equity release schemes work in such a way that the property cannot be sold until the owner has either died or moved into permanent care. Once this happens, the house is sold and the money recovered.
A common concern is that an equity release mortgage can run up huge debts that can even turn into negative equity on the house. This means that once the house is sold, if the sale price of the house is lower than the amount owed, this needs to be paid as well. While this may have been a potential risk with some equity release schemes in the past, most modern equity release plans come with a no negative equity guarantee.
An equity release mortgage is designed to last over a long period of time, however, this is not to say that the loan cannot be repaid earlier if chosen. Many equity release schemes, however, have early repayment charges which apply if the loan is paid ahead of the contract term. These charges are meant to protect the lender from losses incurred due to early repayment.
Whether it is a lifetime mortgage or a home reversion plan, most equity release schemes have certain guarantees that ensure that the owner can continue to live in the property for as long as they live, and that the property cannot be sold until then. However, an equity release mortgage is a big thing and has serious implications. It’s important to seek expert unbiased advice to find out whether it is the right option for you.
Equity release is a popular way of raising money on your property without having to sell the house. There are different types of equity release mortgages, but essentially it is a loan taken against the value of the home, and is repaid when the house is sold, after the owner has died or moved into care. If you have more than one property, it may be possible to release equity on the second home as well. Buy to let equity release is now available from certain equity release lenders.
Some lenders offer equity release loans on multiple holiday homes as well as buy to let homes. Loans are usually offered only if the landlord or the landlords’ family does not rent or live in the property. Buy to let equity release rates are different from home equity release interest rates so it’s worth using an equity release calculator specially designed for buy to let equity release.
Of course, most lenders do not lend if there is an existing large mortgage on the property. The mortgage, if any, must be smaller than the equity that can be released on the property. The amount of equity that can be released on a holiday home depends on several factors, including the age of the applicant. Buy to let equity release is generally only offered if the youngest applicant is over 55 years of age. Landlords with up to 5 buy to let properties can potentially release a proportion of the equity on each property.
The amount of the loan generally varies with age. The more the age of the applicant or the age of the youngest applicant in case of joint applications, the more the proportion of equity that can be borrowed. Also, loans are generally offered in lump sums as opposed to monthly borrowing. Buy to let equity release schemes are becoming increasingly popular, especially among landlords with an extensive property portfolio, as it opens up many possibilities for them in terms of financial planning and further investment.
As with any equity release mortgages, buy to let equity release mortgages involve some setting up costs. These include professional valuation fees which are usually in proportion to the value of the property, application fees, and solicitors’ fees. In addition, if you go to an independent financial adviser, setting up costs also include any fees charged by the adviser.
Individual buy to let equity release schemes may also have additional costs such as early repayment charges. These vary with each policy and as with any financial loan, it is important to find out about all the associated costs before entering into any legally binding contract.
Equity release mortgages are financial products, essentially loans, that allow you to free up the equity tied into your home. For those who own a real estate property and require a supplementary income, this type of loan can be the right option. This is especially true of pensioners who have a house but often require additional cash flow for a better lifestyle, medical expenses etc. There are many different types of equity release schemes, and choosing the right one requires proper understanding of the concept, as well as proper guidance.
As equity release mortgages have become more and more popular, they have also evolved and improved over time. Today, there are not only a greater number of equity release providers in the market but also a great variety in terms of the type of equity release plans. Equity release plans have also become more flexible to suit people in a wider variety of circumstances. Something that was not available a few years back may now have become accessible.
If you already have an equity release mortgage, it may be worth your while to explore the market and see whether there are better options available for you. Switching to a new lender may have several advantages, from lower interest rates to more flexible terms of lending. However, switching your equity release is not always a straightforward process. Before applying for a new loan, it is important to understand all the equity release risks associated with your existing mortgage.
Many lenders charge an early repayment penalty on their equity release mortgages. This changes from lender to lender and also varies with different mortgages. But it could be as low as 5% to as high as 25% of the total amount that is borrowed. These penalties are put in place to protect the lender from losses made on interest when a debt is repaid ahead of term. While ERCs were common until a few years ago, a more competitive market has led to many lenders scrapping this policy.
Sometimes an equity release remortgage with an alternate lender could help make huge savings, however, high early repayment penalties could cancel out any saving and make it economically unviable. In other cases it could still be viable notwithstanding a seemingly high ERC! As always, it is useful to consult a financial adviser, with expertise in the field of equity release mortgages, to help you make the right choice.
Equity release schemes have been around in some format since the 1960’s. However, they have undergone significant changes to ensure that today’s equity release mortgages are complaint & trustworthy in the eyes of the over 55 marketplace.
The first steps towards recognition of the need for consumer protection came in 1991 with the launch of SHIP (Safe Home Income Plan). SHIP brought about a voluntary code of practice that must be implemented within any equity release scheme in order to achieve SHIP status: –
- The flexibility to still be able to move house. Therefore the equity release plan must be portable
- You can repay the equity release mortgage at any time, subject to potential early repayment charges
- All plans must have the inclusion of a ‘no-negative equity guarantee‘ option
The no-negative equity guarantee provides the protection in an ‘over’ roll-up situation, where the equity release balance supercedes the value of the property in the future.
If this does occur the lender will invoke the no-negative equity guarantee and only ask for the property value on eventual sale. This provides the reassurance that no debt can be transferred onto the beneficiaries.
Since then, the FSA (Financial Services Authority) has become involved in the equity release market & taken all schemes under its wing.
Therefore in 2004, lifetime mortgages became fully regulated by the FSA & provided greater consumer protection. This led to only qualified equity release advisers being able provide recommendations to the general public.
Three years later in 2007, home reversions plans were amalgamated with lifetime mortgages resulting in both types of plans becoming regulated by the FSA.
With recent developments in the industry & SHIP now reforming itself into the Equity Release Council to have a stronger presence & stance within the post retirement market, then greater changes are to follow. This in turn will lead to greater consumer awareness of equity release schemes & their benefits to the over 55’s.