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National Equity Release Pension Conference

Choosing the Best Equity Release

Making a decision to join the equity release schemes route to improve cash flow is just the beginning of many more retirement decisions to be made. The question then arises, which equity release scheme to choose? Two major equity release schemes exist; however, there are still decisions to be made before settling for the one that bests suits an individual.

Lifetime mortgage schemes involve taking a loan against the value of one’s property, without worrying about repaying the loan immediately. The repayment of the loan is effected upon death, sale of the property or a permanent move out of the property by the homeowner. Even after settling for this type of scheme, one still has to decide which equity release out of the whole of the equity release market to choose.

A choice still has to be made whether to choose the roll-up interest scheme whereby interest is rolled up and added to the principal debt, thereby increasing it. Alternatively, there is the ordinary interest only lifetime mortgage scheme whereby one pays the interest monthly to keep the principal debt fixed, or lastly, the fixed repayment lifetime mortgage whereby you do not pay the interest, but parties agree beforehand to a fixed amount to be repaid which is quite high. It is therefore important to determine which equity release to choose by looking at how to repay the interest accumulated through the loan.

Two additional products have entered the market recently with regards to lifetime mortgages. Both require the interest to accrue over time like the roll-up option. However, they are different in other ways. First you have the drawdown scheme in which you take a smaller lump sum initially and leave a larger equity release amount in a specified account. This account can be drawn on at any time throughout your life. You only pay interest on the money taken from the account rather than the full equity available to you to use.

Next is the enhanced lifetime mortgage. This mortgage is for a specific set of circumstances regarding health. You fill out a health questionnaire so that the provider can determine if you have an illness or disorder that may reduce your longevity. Cancer, Aids/HIV, obesity, heart disease, smoking, drinking, and other health related issues may qualify for the enhanced lifetime mortgage. You receive a larger lump sum at the outset than all other lifetime mortgages on the assumption you will not be around for as long as the average person in retirement.

If it is the home reversion plan that one chooses, one still has to contend with the pros and cons of this specific type of equity release scheme. For example, it is an advantage that you do not have to make any monthly repayments even for interest. In fact there is no repayment. Instead, you sell a part of your home. You could sell the entire home if you wish. Since there is a sale of property which is recognised in the land registry you owe no money or interest. It is of high importance to consider your age in determining which equity release to choose, as the home reversion plan pays out more the older you are. In fact, the minimum age is 65 but the better terms are experienced over age 70. Once one has signed up for a home reversion plan, it is not easy to cancel it, although you still have portability and the option to borrow additional funds if required.

Portability is something lifetime mortgages offer in that you can take your loan with you if you move to a new home. If that home has more equity you can also borrow more in a lifetime mortgage release. For home reversion you can take the money you earn from the sale to a new home and even enter into a new home reversion if you own that home, where you gain a new lifetime tenancy agreement. A main difference other than the structure of the packages for home reversion and lifetime mortgages is age. You can be 55 years of age to take out a lifetime equity release mortgage.

With so many choices out there, it is imperative to apply caution and due care in determining which equity release to choose. One cannot blindly sign up for one, without possibly incurring much future regret. So employ the professional services of an equity release mortgage adviser to find which equity release deal is best for you, and not least your children.


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