Almost £11m in property wealth released each day in Q3

Claire Tyrrell reports

The equity release market has experienced its busiest quarter so far this year and its third busiest on record as older homeowners continued to access property wealth, Equity Release Council (ERC) figures have revealed.

The value of equity release funding to over-55s saw an 8% lift from £911m in the second quarter to £988m in the three months to September. In Q3, homeowners aged 55 and over unlocked £11m of property wealth each day.

The figures also showed 11,419 new customers used property wealth to support their finances during this period, a 6% increase on the previous quarter. This compared to 33,000 new customers using property equity so far this year, which is greater than the total number of new plans agreed in any full year from 1991 to 2016.

Supplementing pension income, providing a living inheritance to family, home improvements and paying off debt or one-off expenses were cited by the council as the main reasons for unlocking equity.

Just Group communications director Stephen Lowe said home ownership levels were at their highest in later life and the average home value of an equity release customer was significantly higher than the UK house price.

“Property wealth is set to provide an important source of funds for an increasing number of homeowners from right across the wealth spectrum in the coming years,” he added.

According to the ERC, the rapid emergence of new customer segments reflected the pace of innovation in the market and equity release plans have 10 times more product features than five years ago.