Home improvements and clearing mortgages top equity release uses

Victoria McKeever writes

Home improvements and clearing an existing mortgage topped the list of uses for equity release in the first half of 2017, Retirement Advantage has found.

More than a quarter (27%) of people used wealth released from their property to make home or garden improvements in the first half of the year, according to customer data from the pension planning specialist.

The same number used equity release loans to pay off an existing mortgage, it said.

By comparison, less than a fifth (18%) used an equity release loan to consolidate unsecured debt. Another 14% used property wealth to contribute to daily living expenses, while 13% funded a holiday.

Retirement Advantage surveyed 2065 of its customers in the first half of the year.

Head of marketing Alice Watson (pictured) said: “The popularity of using equity release to clear an existing mortgage is a trend we’ve noticed before among our customers.

“It is encouraging evidence that retirees are thinking holistically about the role of property wealth alongside other assets to live the lives they want. Especially as evidence suggests that for many, their property will be worth more than their pension.”

Growing market

The number of consumers taking out equity release loans has grown exponentially in recent years thanks to low rates and improved competition.

Lenders in the sector have already started to adapt to the changing market. Retirement Advantage recently took on former IFA Les Pick as equity release head of sales to “meet the challenges of a bigger cohort of potential customers”.

In May, more 2 life also launched a “high speed” commission payment process for advisers in response to sector growth.

There has been concern about the quality of equity release advice, as not all advisers were thought to be up to scratch on latest market developments.

The regulator however, has ruled out introducing a standalone equity release qualification to allay those concerns, saying there was not a “market need for a change to the appropriate qualification for equity release.”