Equity Release FAQ's
Most frequent questions and answers
Equity Release mythbusters
Here we debunk some commonly held myths about equity release.
Myth 1. You are at risk of repossession or losing your home
With a lifetime mortgage, the kind of plan that Responsible recommends, as long as it is governed by regulatory body the Equity Release Council (formerly known as SHIP), you are not at risk of losing your home.
This is because you have the guaranteed right to remain in your property for as long as it is your main residence. This guarantee is written into the offer that both you and the lender will sign.
Myth 2. There will be nothing left to leave as inheritance
There are plans available where you can ‘protect your equity’. Here you choose an amount to protect as a percentage, for example 50%. It does reduce the amount you have available to take but it allows you to ringfence a portion and say no matter what, the decision to release equity will not affect that portion of the property. You get the money you require now whilst your children (or other beneficiaries) receive a sizeable inheritance.
Myth 3. You will leave debt to your loved ones
As part of the Equity Release Council’s guarantees, you will never owe more than the value of your home. That means you can’t be in any levels of debt from an equity release plan that cannot be covered by the eventual sale of your property.
Myth 4. You will be stuck in the same house you are in now
All plans covered by The Equity Release Councilare ‘portable’. This means you can move them to another suitable property without having to pay any penalty.
Myth 5. Your family will be forced into a quick sale to repay the equity release debt
Most equity release providers will allow your estate up to 12 months to sell the property before they even ask any questions. As long as they are taking reasonable steps to sell the property, that is all the lender looks for.
Whole of market advisers
Choosing the right company to help you take money from your home is important.
We pride ourselves on service and maintain a reputation for using the whole of the market.
Using the whole of the market means we are unbiased and work for you and you alone. It doesn’t matter to us which of the lenders you recommend, as long as it is the right one.
How much can I unlock from my property?
The amount you can release varies dependent on a few factors. Notably, the age of the youngest applicant i.e. you or your partner; your location in the UK, your property value and your medical history.
Property Valuation in equity release
As part of any equity release sale, you will need to have the property valued by a chartered surveyor. Typically, this is arranged on your behalf by the lender although it is never carried out by the lender and always done independently so there is no conflict of interest. With a lifetime mortgage from Responsible, the valuation is only for illustration purposes as you do not sell any part of your property.
Traditionally, if you were to sell your house through an estate agent, they would value your property but then it would be open to offer from prospective buyers. With equity release, the valuation of your property is fixed and doesn’t come under any offers. You are free to accept the valuation, appeal it showing evidence of comparable sales or switch equity release providers if you are unhappy.
At Responsible, we always work hard to make sure you are happy with the valuation process.
It is important when choosing somebody to help you access your property wealth that you choose a company who follows strict procedure in valuing your property.
Shaping the type of plan for you
Finding The Right Equity Release Plan
Different plans on the marketplace have different benefits, drawbacks, advantages and disadvantages. Each plan is designed to cater to different needs and so it is important to consider your circumstances and options carefully. Take a look at your situation and work out what it is you want to achieve with a plan which will help shape your choice of equity release providers.
Are you looking for a short-term solution, say perhaps until you downsize?
Are you looking to stay in the same property for life?
Do you want the maximum amount possible from an equity release plan?
Do you want the money staggered over a period of time?
Do you want to protect an inheritance for your children and beneficiaries?
Do you want to make monthly interest payments?
Would you like to make periodical repayments, say once or twice a year when you can afford it?
What are your views on house price inflation?
Do you believe increasing property prices may allow you to take more from your property in the future?
What are your views on your life expectancy?
Are there any medical issues that underwriters may take into account to offer you a more personalised rate?
Do you see yourself living in this country for more than 6 months of the year?
Are you expecting a financial windfall anytime soon that could repay the plan?
Do you want the peace of mind that comes with having a larger cash cushion?
Do you want a high street equity release lender or are you happy to choose a specialist?
Would you prefer the roll-up lifetime mortgage or to make contributions?
Have you considered a drawdown plan to delay interest build up?
Are you leaning towards a lifetime mortgage or a home reversion plan?
Is keeping full ownership of your property and deeds the main priority?
Are early repayment charges likely to ever come into action at a later date?
Do you intent to move to a similar property and port the plan with you?
What is more important, price or flexibility?
All of the answers to these questions will lead to the shape of your equity release plan.
Don’t worry, you’re not left to ponder these on your own. A good advice process will lead you to your own conclusions and help shape the plan with the benefits that suit your requirements.
All good advisors should go through a fact-finding process to get to know your current needs and your future intentions. Only then can they recommend an equity release scheme that is the most cost-effective.
Who’s active in equity release?
It may surprise to you read that the vast majority of equity release schemes are not arranged directly through the high street names. According to the equity release trade body, The Equity Release Council, 90% of plans were arranged through intermediaries like us. As new entrants come into the marketplace, it is important to choose a Financial Adviser who can look at the entire market offerings. Otherwise, you are only looking at what’s available from one equity release provider.
At time of writing, there is only one provider who you can go direct to, Aviva. However, to just look at the plans from one company wouldn’t provide you with the most options.
So who are the other lenders?
The lenders in equity release are made up of high street names and specialist companies with high levels of expertise, usually backed financially by banks or building societies.
Currently active in the marketplace are LV= (formerly known as Liverpool Victoria), Aviva, Just Retirement, Pure Retirement, Retirement Advantage, More2Life, Julian Hodge Bank, Partnership, New Life, Bridgewater. Up until recently, Northern Rock, Halifax and Scottish Widows too.
Which you choose will depend on a number of factors and it is fair to say each lender works hard to deliver a broad range of equity release features that may suit you; from interest-repayments, inheritance protection guarantees, enhanced plans based on medical underwriting, larger loan to values, fixed and defined early repayment conditions & low interest rates.
For advice on which lender to choose, our number is 0333 323 4656 and we would be glad to provide a free telephone consultation or an appointment where we lay the different plans out for you in the comfort of your home.
What are the alternatives to equity release?
As part of a sound equity release advice process, it is important to run through your options thoroughly to make sure you reach the right conclusion. This includes the alternatives to equity release that may be available to you, whether these be from the traditional mortgage providers, family members or a change in your lifestyle.
One alternative to equity release that is popular is the route of downsizing. If you were to sell up and move to a smaller property, you would be able to keep the difference in price between the two houses. Often this can release more equity than the lifetime mortgage market. However, it is important to consider the costs of moving, which can eat into the savings. It must also be said that moving house can cause physical and emotional disruption to many so this is to be remembered.
If you have family members who come and visit you, it is important to factor this in when considering downsizing to a much smaller property. As with any big decision, take your time over it before committing to making a big move.
Another alternative to equity release is taking in a lodger. An extra person around the house can soon help with the bills and increased cost of living. If this is an option for you be sure to check out the Lodger’s Pack from the National Landlord’s Association which will run through as a checklist what you should look out for when taking someone into your main residence.
If taking in a lodger or moving to a smaller property isn’t what you want, you may also want to think about selling up and renting a property. This way you free up all the equity in your property, however, you are not guaranteed to have a home for life with this method. You may run out of money to pay as rent and be left in a difficult situation so think about this option carefully.
For smaller income needs, you may want to seek out the assistance of family members, who can help you financially until you are more comfortable. We often find this is usually done when the amount needed is less than a few thousand pounds.
Check to your local authority for government and council grants that may assist you. Energy grants are a common one but it is important to do your research and ask for the funds if required, because they will rarely seek you out on their own. The government and local authorities do sometimes provide grants if they are to make your home more efficient and in turn lower your heating bills. It’s important to remember that these grants may not cover the full amount you need and that they may be limited in numbers. The local authorities often have funding issues and It is difficult to rely on grants. Make sure you enquire about the availability before making your mind up.
Further to these alternatives to equity release, you might be eligible for state benefits that you aren’t currently receiving. Pension credit, disability allowances, means-tested benefits and council tax benefits may be available to you. As part of our equity release advice, we will take the headache out of the process and do a state benefits check if it looks as though you may be eligible.
Alternatively, if you wanted to do a check yourself, you can find a good benefits calculator here
Whilst equity release has a number of alternatives, the benefits of being able to raise money from your home whilst continuing to live there for life are obvious. You get to stay in the property you love whilst unlocking the capital you need. Be sure to consider all of your options carefully before proceeding with equity release or any other form of using your property wealth.
Should I downsize or release equity from my property?
“It’s easy to see why so many people regard their home as their pension. The equity release industry has spruced up its act, offering a no-negative-equity guarantee and building a new generation of products which are more flexible. Downsizing costs a lot in stamp duty and other fees. For others, in this moribund market downsizing is a non-starter.” Julian Knight, The Independent on Sunday, April 2012.
A recent article in the Independent compared downsizing with equity release. Which up until now have always been two completely different sides of the coin. Now, we have a plan that allows you to release equity now and then freely downsize in the future if you choose to, without penalty for doing so.
If you are looking to use your property to supplement your pension, you may have thought you will do one or the other – release equity or downsize. Why not consider doing both? You may not want to sell up and move house right now. After all it’s a difficult market to be selling a property and you may not get the price you want.
However, that’s not to say that in a few years time you might not want to downsize. The new plan available through Responsible allows you to repay the plan early, without penalty, if you choose to downsize at a later date. This way, you can access the money you need now and access more of the equity at a later date.
It’s a win win situation.
Use our up to date comparison calculator and see facts and figures based on your age, location and property value. It gives you three results from different lenders, the most of any company. For a quote covering all the companies, please give us a call on 0800 012 4181.
More Frequently asked FAQ's
Most frequently asked Equity Release Questions
Equity Release Schemes & Lifetime Mortgages – The Concept Explained
Equity release lenders now give homeowners aged 55+ the option to turn the equity built up in their property into tax-free cash without selling up or downsizing. You continue to own the property 100%, keep the deeds in your name and have the right to remain in your property for life.
Equity in your home is the difference between the home’s fair market value and the outstanding balance of all mortgages, secured loans and charges on the property. Usually, to access your equity you would need to sell your property or remortgage with straining monthly repayment commitments.
However, equity release is a product designed to meet the needs of asset- rich homeowners who don’t want to move. It’s popular because it makes sense. The equity release lenders like to invest in reliable, long-term UK property whilst those releasing equity benefit from gaining access to money that would have otherwise been tied up for life.
The money you receive is yours to spend as you please and as the equity is already yours, it is completely tax-free. You can also choose how you would like to receive the money – whether it be a cash lump sum, an account to draw upon as and when required, or a mixture of the two. Each have their own value so it’s best to look at all the options and compare them all with the help of comprehensive advice.
Does my property still belong to me and am I safe in it for life?
If you release equity with Responsible, you are guaranteed to keep ownership of your property and you are guaranteed to be able to live there for the lives of you and your partner or for as long as you want to.
Do I sell any part of my property to anybody?
If you release with Responsible, the answer is No. You are guaranteed to keep the deeds to your property and maintain 100% home ownership.
Am I free to move home at a later date?
If you release equity with Responsible, the answer is Yes. You can transfer the plan to another suitable property without penalty. If you decide to downsize in the future, you can repay the plan with the proceeds of the house sale. There may be charges for paying back early but if this was a priority Responsible would find you a lender who was the most flexible with repayment.
This is a lifetime mortgage. To understand the features and risks ask for a personalised illustration.
What are the pros and cons of releasing money from my property?
1) Retirement can be a time of fixed income and many people have valuable homes but little spare cash. With these plans you can yield an income from your property wealth, all tax-free.
2) You can use the cash you release to spend as you wish.
3) You may want to use the money to take that holiday you’ve always dreamed of, perhaps visiting family that you havent seen for years.
4) You might want to buy a new, more reliable car to help you get around. With the price of petrol on a constant upward trend, people are looking to equity release to buy a modern car with an efficient engine – often getting up to 70 miles per gallon.
5) Many people are using equity release to help their family get on to the property ladder. The market for first-time buyers is a difficult one at the moment but those with healthy deposits to put down towards their mortgage are doing much better. We see a number of people gift their children for this cause. The advantage of this is that it is an ‘early inheritance’ and one where you can see your gift at work.
6) As the cost of heating property becomes more expensive, some innovative equity release customers are purchasing solar panels for their property and setting themselves up for cheaper energy costs in the future.
7) Some of our customers are releasing equity in order to make home improvements. Whether this is for a conservatory, efficiency improvements or to extend the property to accomodate the visits of a growing family.
8) If customers are looking to help out their family using equity release, it may be that there is an additional inheritance tax benefit to doing so. Typically, equity release is not used as a standalone inheritance tax planning tool. However, if there is another use of the money released it can provide a benefit in reducing the IHT liability.
9) Many people simply use the money they release to make up the shortfall some people experience when they retire.
10) It could affect your entitlement to some state benefits and may affect your tax position. However, as a rule when we offer a no-obligation consultation, we will always carry out a state benefits check to ensure that you are aware of any affect that might happen should you go through with an equity release plan. Also, there are ways to manage the impact on state benefits, such as using drawdown to release equity without going over the capital allowances. A financial adviser will present the full explanation to you and you would be then free to make an informed decision.
11) All equity release schemes will reduce the value of your estate. However, we do have access to guaranteed-inheritance plans that allow you to ringfence a portion of your property to leave to your estate.
What is the procedure for equity release?
The decision to tap in to your property wealth is best made with all the information. Use our unbiased calculator to work out how much is available to you. We will also send you a copy of our free 12 page, full colour, informational and educational guide.
If you are interested in learning more, you can contact us on 0800 012 4180 to discuss your needs with a view to arranging a face-to-face home visit with one of our financial advisers.
Our financial advisers will lay the plans out in black-and-white, providing an illustration of exactly how much you can receive and what the costs will be. Our visits are free, relaxed and carry no-obligation to proceed.
If you feel equity release is for you, our advisers will advise you on the plan which best fits your needs & priorities. From here, we would look to arrange an independent valuation on the property. We have offers from the major lenders where a valuation can be offered free of charge (ask us about these).
Once the valuation has been carried out, an offer will be instructed. You will need to visit a solicitor to discuss the offer before signing. If you don’t have a solicitor we would be happy to put you in touch with a solicitor well versed in lifetime mortgage conveyancing.
Once you have seen the solicitor and signed the documents, they will conduct their conveyancing work and you will receive a cheque in 2 weeks upwards. Our record here at Responsible is 9 days from application completion but we always say allow 4 plus weeks.
Why choose Equity Release Guru?
We’d like to discuss with you the features and savings of the different plans that we have extensively sourced and negotiated on your behalf from the whole of the marketplace.
You’ll be in the comfort of your home, explaining to a relaxed, mature, qualified adviser what you would like to achieve. Unlike our competitors, we will bring personalised quotes on the first visit so your priorities, goals and ambitions can be matched with sound, detailed advice on how you can achieve them.
For your peace of mind in what is an important decision, we go further than our competitors. All advice we provide benefits from a second opinion from another one of our expert advisers. They will be sent the facts to look through, discuss the proposed solution and sign off the advice. That way, you get twice the experience at the same cost and without any time or cost requirements to see more than one person.
Our knowledgeable, qualified specialists offer expert advice you can trust, they answer your most probing questions about future downsizing or care plans, the impact on inheritance, taxation and state benefits.
You’ll then be free to make the right decision based on high quality equity release advice and lots of clear information. If you decide to proceed, you can arrange another free visit to help you with the paperwork.
We only ever charge for all of this should you complete a plan and we don’t expect payment until you receive your money. If you de- cide it’s not right for you, we won’t charge you a thing for our time. It’s an industry we’re proud of and we want you to know all about it.
How do I release equity from my home?
We have made a how to guide to the process behind equity release schemes. At Responsible, we try and keep the process as simple as possible.
We like to provide free anonymous information first and foremost, through the use of our tools, calculators and brochures.
From there, we would like to personalise this information to your circumstances, through the use of no-obligation consultations.
After that, if you decide to proceed we like to provide an efficient arrangement service where we make sure the valuation goes smoothly, you choose the right conveyancing solicitors and that the equity release provider you go with treats your case with exceptional attention.
Our research has found that there has been some confusion so we have done our best to debunk the myths. If you are thinking ‘how do i release equity’ give us a ring and we will walk you through the equity release process.
Types of equity release?
Fortunately, there has been recent innovation in the marketplace which has provided you with more choice when it comes to equity release schemes. We have access to the latest award winning plans because of our whole of market status. Our knowledgeable financial advisers regularly review the products on the marketplace to bring you a full understanding of the features available in each. We would research the plans on your behalf and present you with a suitability letter outlining a comparison of what is available based on price, quality, speed of service and key features.
Introduce Equity Release Clients to Equity Release Guru?
Equity release is set to be the growth sector for the next decade. Here at Responsible, we invite you to take share in this growth sector with a measured and risk-free step. Your clients will always be looked after by a specialist with the utmost knowledge of the market.
Responsible Equity Release have an introduction scheme, allowing you to refer potential equity release clients to us, learn a lot along the way and then decide if equity release is something you may consider licensing your firm to do or if you are happy to continue receiving market-leading introduction fees from us.
If you have clients looking to release equity from property, visit our equity referral website or give us a call on 0333 323 4656 to discuss the possibility of earning substanital commissions from this exciting industry.
What is the criteria to release equity in the UK?
In order to release equity on a home, the following criteria usually needs to be met:
- To qualify you must be aged 55-95.
- The home in question must be your permanent main residence and lived in by you for over six months of the year.
- You must own the home from which you are releasing equity.
- The home must be worth at least 70,000.
The material constitution of the property is an important factor when determining eligibility. Some providers are more flexible than others. Typically, if there is anything unusual about your property, let us know and we will see if we can match it to an equity release provider. Types of property that it’s best to ask first include poured concrete, timber framed, homes with a thatched roof & Laing easyform.
What is the code of conduct for equity release schemes?
Equity release providers have come a long way since the 1990s when bad press was commonplace. Your home and security within it is very important. You need to know that you are guaranteed to remain in your property for life if you take out an equity release plan. Fortunately, the advancements & innovations found in today’s plan features are also found in the regulation and compliance side of the equity release industry.
The Financial Services Authority (Now the Financial Conduct Authority) took charge of the industry in 2004 and set out some important rules & regulations that companies wishing to provide equity release schemes have to adhere to. Failure to adhere to these guidelines would result in the company being penalised and the customer receiving compensation.
You can rest assured that equity release is now one of the most regulated products in the UK and that these regulations are there for your safety. They exist to allow you to make the most of your property wealth without having to worry about what is going to happen to your home.
To release equity, you must now be advised by a qualified financial adviser who has passed equity release qualifications. At Responsible, all of our equity release advisers are highly experienced and have passed qualifications over and above what is required by the Financial Conduct Authority. As the plan is advised, you have the right to seek compensation and file a complaint if the advice is found to be unsuitable and you have been put at a disadvantage because of it.
Alongside the regulator, a trade body has been established to provide customers with further protection and guarantees to ensure you are always safe when you release equity.
The Equity Release Council (formerly known as SHIP) is an organisation dedicated to the protection of the equity release consumer through a code of conduct which goes over and above Financial Conduct Authority Regulations. We only ever recommend plans that adhere to strict the Equity Release Council’s standards. Only those who hold the required qualifications are allowed to advise and arrange a Equity Release Council’s plan.
The Equity Release Council’s plans carry, amongst other things, the right to transfer the plan to a new property, the no-negative equity guarantee – you will never owe more than the value of your home – and the right to remain in your property for life.