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 Ship has now been superseded by the Equity Release Council (ERC) which lays down the precedents by which all equity release firms & advisers must adhere to.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.
Equity release schemes have come a long way since they were first introduced in the market. Equity release plans proved to be a very popular concept, and it is their popularity that paved the way for new, improved and more flexible options. Equity release mortgages today are also better regulated when compared with older mortgages.
The popularity of equity release is due to a very real need in society. Living costs have gone up considerably, as have property prices. In this light, pensioners who own homes, but not have enough cash flow can find equity release to be a good solution. It allows homeowners to increase their income during retirement, without the need to sell the property and move into a different place.
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is a body that regulates financial services and products. The FSA aims to maintain transparency and fairness in communication related to financial services, including advice issued to customers. It also aims to eradicate financial wrongdoing. Equity release schemes and mortgages today are completely regulated by the FSA. Equity release customers can seek support and protection from the FSA.
A common concern that people have with equity release mortgages is the potential risk of negative equity. Due to compounding interest built up over a long period of time, an equity release debt can become quite large compared to the amount borrowed. When the house is sold, if the amount owed is higher than the sale value of the house, a negative equity is created.
As the equity release market has matured and become more competitive, it has also become safer for customers. Safe Home Income Plans is a self regulated body that aims to serve customers by making the terms of equity release mortgages more transparent and safe. For instance, all SHIP equity release schemes offer a no negative equity assurance. This means that any negative equity does not need to be repaid to the lender.
Solicitors that can handle all the paperwork related to an equity release application, as well as provide specialist advice. The equity release solicitors’ alliance ERSA, is a charter of specialist solicitors dealing with equity release mortgages. There is a wide variety of equity release schemes available in the market. It is important to seek professional independent expert advice regarding equity release. Independent experts can provide guidance on the potential risks and advantages of equity release for you.
The decision to take out an equity release mortgage is not a small one. It has major implications on your life, and as such, the decision should be taken with careful consideration, and with the help of expert advice. Fortunately, as the equity release market has matured over time, it has also become safer for consumers with independent regulatory bodies committed to maintain high safe practice standards.
Safe Home Income Plans is an independent trade body that aims to ensure transparency and consumer safety in the context of equity release plans. SHIP approved equity release providers adhere to certain rules that are designed to maintain transparent communication to consumers, as well as safety measures such as the no negative equity guarantee.
There are certain procedures that need to be followed while applying for an equity release mortgage on your house. Procedures include valuation and completing the application process as per required terms, which can be done by professional solicitors. There are solicitors that specialise in equity release schemes, and can therefore ensure that everything goes smoothly.
The role of a solicitor in the process of getting an equity release is not just to guide you through the paperwork, but more importantly, to guide you through the potential risks and rewards of equity release in your specific context. A solicitor who is an expert in equity release will have up to date knowledge about different options suitable for your particular circumstances. It is therefore vital to find an expert solicitor who knows the equity release market.
Some specialist solicitors firms have formed an independent charter known as the equity release solicitors’ alliance or ERSA. The objective behind this alliance is to uphold the importance of expert and specialist advice within the field of equity release mortgages and also to increase awareness of the public regarding this. If you require guidance about equity release in general or about specific equity release schemes and their suitability, it is necessary to take advice from an expert in the field.
While there may be a lot of information available on various platforms, such as the internet, when it comes to financial products such as an equity release mortgage, it is important to seek information from genuinely impartial sources. An independent financial adviser or solicitor can give fair and unbiased advice about a product, unlike any party affiliated with a particular provider or company.