Equity release schemes are essentially loans that one can take out against the value of their property. This loan plus the interest that has accrued on it over the years is repaid once the owner has died or moved into long term care, and the house is sold at market value. In a time when living costs are on the rise, home owners are turning towards equity release as an option for financial planning during retirement.
There are two main types of equity release plans, the lifetime mortgage plan and the home reversion plan. Lifetime mortgage is exactly that – it is a loan that is designed to last the entire life of the applicant, and is repaid along with the interest when the house is sold. The applicant legally owns the house and can live in it as long as they live or move into long term care. In case of joint applicants, the house cannot be sold until both the applicants have died or moved into care.
In home reversion plans, a part of the house is sold to the lender. Once the house is sold, proportional share of the sale value of the house is repaid to the provider. Home reversion is not a loan against the house, but a notional selling of part of the house. Both equity release plans accrue compound interest on the loans.
One of the main advantages of an equity release scheme is that you can continue to live in your own home. Of course, that it generates an additional income is also an important advantage, but this could also be achieved by downsizing. Applicants can live in their home for as long as they live. Many people also use equity release loans to pay for home care, so that they can go on living in their own home.
Once the applicants have moved out or died, the equity release scheme ends and the house must be sold. The applicant’s family cannot continue to live in the house after this, unless the full amount of the loan plus interest can be repaid immediately by some other means. In case of home reversion plans, the loan amount increases in proportion to the market value of the house when it is sold.
Sometimes it may be necessary to add another applicant to an existing equity release plan. In cases where joint applicants get divorced, it may also be necessary to remove an applicant from a plan. It is possible to do this, in theory, but is subject to the lender’s terms and conditions for that particular loan. It is therefore important to seek specialist advice and guidance before taking any step related to equity release.