What is Equity Release

Equity release can be a way of letting you access the equity (cash) tied up in your home, typically if you are over the age of 55. You can take the money you release as a lump sum, several smaller amounts, a regular income or as a combination.

The two widely used options are:

Lifetime mortgage: you take out a mortgage secured on your property provided it is your main residence, while retaining ownership. You can choose to ring-fence some of the value of your property as an inheritance for your family. You can choose to make repayments or let the interest roll-up. The loan amount and any accrued interest is paid back when you die or when you move into long-term care.

Home reversion: you sell part or all of your home to a home reversion provider in return for a lump sum or regular payments. You have the right to continue living in the property until you die, rent free, but you have to agree to maintain and insure it. You can ring-fence a percentage of your property for later use, possibly for inheritance. The percentage you retain will always remain the same regardless of the change in property values, unless you decide to take further cash releases. At the end of the plan your property is sold and the sale proceeds are shared according to the remaining proportions of ownership.

Contact Us

Free No Obligation Initial Meeting
See how our 100 years of combined experience can help your financial planning.
Lifetime mortgages

A popular method for equity release is lifetime mortgages. Normally you don’t have to make any repayments while you’re alive, the interest ‘rolls up’ (unpaid interest is added to the loan). This means that the debt can increase quite quickly over a period of time, typically the debt can double after 10 years. However, some lifetime mortgages offer you the option to pay all or some of the interest each month, and some even let you pay off the interest and capital.

In the same way that ordinary mortgages vary from lender to lender, so do lifetime mortgages. When considering a lifetime mortgage, it’s useful to know:

  • The minimum age is usually 55.
  • You can normally borrow up to 40% of the value of your property. How much can be released is dependent on your age and the value of your property. The percentage typically increases according to your age when you take out the lifetime mortgage and your health status.
  • Interest rates must be fixed or, if they are variable, there must be a “cap” (upper limit) which is fixed for the life of the loan (Equity Release Council standard).
  • You have the right to remain in your property for life or until you need to move into long-term care, provided the property remains your main residence and you abide by the terms and conditions of your contract. (Equity Release Council standard).
  • The product has a “no negative equity guarantee”. This means that when your property is sold, and agents’ and solicitors’ fees have been paid, even if the amount left is not enough to repay the outstanding loan to your provider, neither you nor your estate will be liable to pay any more (Equity Release Council standard).
  • You have the right to move to another property subject to the new property being acceptable to your product provider as continuing security for your equity release loan (Equity Release Council standard). Different lifetime mortgage providers may have slightly different thresholds.
  • Whether you can pay none, some or all of the interest. If you can make repayments, the mortgage will be less costly. However, with a lifetime mortgage where you can make monthly payments, the amount you can repay may be based on your income. Providers will have to check that you can afford these regular payments.
  • Whether you can withdraw the equity you’re releasing in small amounts as and when you need it or whether you have to take it as one lump sum. The advantage of being able to take money out in smaller amounts is that you only pay the interest on the amount you’ve withdrawn. If you can take smaller lump sums, make sure you check if there’s a minimum amount.

Home reversion

Home reversion allows you sell some or all of your home to a home reversion provider. In return you’ll get a lump sum or regular payments. You will normally get between 25% and 60% of the market value of your home (or the part that you sell).

When considering a home reversion plan, you should check:

  • The minimum age at which you can take out a home reversion plan. Some home reversion providers insist that you are at least 60 or 65 before you can apply.
  • The percentage of the market value you will receive. This will increase the older you are when you take out the plan but may vary from provider to provider.
  • Whether or not you can release equity in several payments or in one lump sum
  • You have the right to remain in your property for life or until you need to move to long-term care, provided the property remains your main residence and you abide by the terms and conditions of your contract. (Equity Release Council standard).
    You have the right to move to another property subject to the new property being acceptable to your product provider as continuing security for your equity release loan (Equity Release Council standard).
  • The product has a “no negative equity guarantee”. This means that when your property is sold, and agents’ and solicitors’ fees have been paid, even if the amount left is not enough to repay the outstanding loan to your provider, neither you nor your estate will be liable to pay any more (Equity Release Council standard).
  • What level of maintenance you’ll be expected to carry out and how often your property will be inspected (this could be every few years).