Guide to Equity Release

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1 Guide to Equity Release Find out how you could unlock cash from your home in association with One of the Yours guides designed to The Guide to Equity Release in association with 1 help you make the most of your life

2 Contents Why equity release? 4 Getting started 5 Which plan is right for me? 6-9 Dear Yours reader, In these days of rising property prices, equity release is growing in popularity among over-55s. Regulation has improved in recent years, too, making it a safe, convenient way for many of us to free up some of the value in our homes. But taking out an equity release plan is also a major financial step, so it s vital you get all the information you need before you go ahead. That s what this guide aims to do. It clearly outlines the different kinds of equity release plan on offer and the safeguards that are in place to protect you, your home and your family. The aim is not to convince you that equity release is right for you, but to give you unbiased information so you can make the decision that s right for you. We hope you find it useful. If you re in or approaching retirement you may have been having concerns with how your finances will stretch to cover not only day-to-day living expenses but also those one-off expenses such as buying a new car, updating the house or going on holiday. Thousands of homeowners in or approaching retirement have unlocked the wealth tied up in their homes to give themselves a much needed cash boost. If you re a homeowner aged 55 to 95 and in need of a tax-free cash lump sum, equity release might be the ideal solution for you. What s more, with an equity release plan there are typically no monthly repayments and you can stay in your home for life. When it comes to releasing cash safely from your home though, it s important you speak to an independent expert. Who qualifies for equity release? 10 What is equity release really like? 11 Equity release case studies Your questions answered How you are protected 16 What do I do next? 17 Introducing Key Retirement Sharon Reid Editor Information in this guide is correct at March 2015, but tax and benefit rules, interest rates and product features change frequently. Yours and Key Retirement accept no liability for decisions taken on the sole basis of this information and always recommend you take personal advice. 2 The Guide to Equity Release in association with The Guide to Equity Release in association with 3

3 Why equity release? An equity release plan can be a useful solution if you find yourself in need of an additional cash boost. You can spend the money in any way you want: Making home and garden improvements, such as an extension or new kitchen Paying for a special holiday, or to fund a family celebration Helping your family or friends, perhaps with deposits for property or costly bills Clearing outstanding mortgage, loans or credit card debt Passing some capital down to the next generation so they can benefit during your lifetime Making it easier to meet day-to-day living costs Buying a new car or caravan Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. Popular uses of equity release Treat family and friends Clear outstanding mortgage Help with regular bills 23% 22% Pay debts (e.g. loans, credit cards) 16% 63% Home and/ or garden improvements 30% 31% Go on holiday Source: Key Market Monitor Full Year Report 2014 Getting started In most cases, you will qualify for equity release if you re a homeowner aged between 55 and 95, are residing in the UK and your home is worth a minimum of 60,000. Equity release potentially gives you the best of both worlds. You don t need to leave the home you love and, at the same time, you can benefit from some of the value that has built up in it over the years. However, it is important to seek advice from an independent specialist adviser first. They will search the whole market on your behalf to find the best plan for you. Their top priority will be making sure that equity release suits your personal circumstances. Equity release Will I still be entitled to benefits? It is possible to release equity and still receive the benefits you are entitled to. However, raising cash from your home could affect your entitlement to some means-tested benefits, such as Pension Credit or Council Tax Benefit. If your entitlements will be affected, your independent specialist adviser can help you decide whether the money unlocked from your property would offset any possible loss of benefits. The average Key customer released 46,919 based on an average property value of 259,882. Source:Key Retirement Market Monitor Report The Guide to Equity Release in association with The Guide to Equity Release in association with 5

4 Which plan is right for me? There are lots of different equity release plans to choose from and each one addresses slightly different needs. This is why it s so important to obtain independent specialist advice. Some advisers only deal with the company they represent. It s always preferable to take advice from someone who is truly independent and who will be able to search the whole market to make an informed recommendation. Once you have had an appointment with an independent adviser, they will carefully consider all your options and give you a full recommendation as to whether equity release is the best option for you at this time. Lifetime Mortgages A lifetime mortgage is a form of equity release plan where a loan is secured against your property to provide you with a tax-free cash lump sum to spend as you wish, with typically no monthly repayments to meet. Compound interest is added to the lifetime mortgage loan throughout your lifetime. The loan plus interest is eventually paid back when the home is sold, usually when you move into long term care, or when you and your partner die. You can typically release between 18-50% of the value of your property with a lifetime mortgage, depending on your age. Drawdown Plans Drawdown lifetime mortgages work in the same way as lifetime mortgages but with added flexibility. Rather than taking the maximum lump sum, you can choose, after an initial release amount, to drawdown the cash in stages as and when you want to. The interest is only added when the funds are released so it adds up more slowly than it would if you released the full amount at the outset. These are a flexible option and can form an essential part of planning your future finances. A comparison between a standard lifetime mortgage and a drawdown option of 64,000 released over 15 years with an interest rate of 5.89% by a 70-year-old male Drawdown at the end of year Outcome after 15 years Option Initial advance Interest charged Total owed Lump sum 64,000 n/a n/a n/a n/a 87, ,009 Drawdown 20,000 15,000 8,000 7,000 14,000 50, ,926 Saving 36,083 Enhanced Plans If you or your partner has any health or lifestyle conditions you may be able to release more money from your home. Health issues such as diabetes, heart problems or high blood pressure are typical examples where you could qualify for an enhanced equity release plan. The same also applies to lifestyle factors such as heavy smoking. You may miss out on thousands if you choose an adviser who cannot advise on this. Protected Plans If you want to guarantee an inheritance for your family this is possible with some lifetime mortgages. A couple who are able to release 50,000 and want to ensure their grandchildren are left with an inheritance could take 30,000 (60% of the maximum available) leaving 40% of the property protected. Which plan is right for me? Combined Plans Flexibility within lifetime mortgages, means that advisers are able to assess how you could benefit from a combination of these options to not only save your estate money but also tailor your plan to your current and future needs. Example: If you want an inheritance for your family and need lump sums of money at different stages over the next 15 years, you may be able to have a protected plan with a drawdown facility. 6 The Guide to Equity Release in association with The Guide to Equity Release in association with 7

5 Differences between plans Comparison chart Feature Lifetime Mortgage Home Reversion Drawdown Plan Take smaller amounts of money when you need them You own your home You sell a share of your home Interest accrues on the loan Secure a pot of money for the future Home Reversion Plans With a home reversion plan you sell part or all of your home to a reversion plan company in exchange for a taxfree cash lump sum and a guaranteed lifetime lease with no monthly repayments to meet. You have the absolute right to stay in your home rent-free for as long as you choose which is why you don t typically receive full market value for the share of the home you sell. Both you and the reversion plan company share in any increase in your property s value, providing you have not exchanged 100% of its value. With home reversion plans you are also able to guarantee an inheritance to your beneficiaries. When the plan comes to an end, the home reversion provider takes its percentage share of the sale proceeds from your property. Advantages and Disadvantages of Lifetime Mortgages and Home Reversion Plans Receive a tax-free cash lump sum Typically no monthly repayments No negative equity guarantee with ERC approved plans Stay in your home for life Move and take the plan with you (subject to lender criteria) Protect a percentage of your property / guarantee an inheritance Entitlement to some state benefits may be affected It could affect your tax position The value of your estate is reduced Interest Payment Plans To meet the growing needs of people wanting to take equity out of their homes, it is now possible to get interest payment mortgages. Interest payment works on the same basis as a lifetime mortgage and you choose how much interest you want to pay and how long you want to pay the interest charged each month (for example, 1 year, 5 years or even up to the lifetime of the loan).* The advantage of this option is by paying some interest payments during the plan term, the amount your provider takes at the end of the plan will be less, as you have already paid off some or all of the interest accrued. Also, if for any reason you are unable to make repayments, this plan can be converted so interest is added as with a standard lifetime mortgage although charges may apply. With options such as this it is important that you seek specialist independent advice and speak to to an independent adviser to find the best plan for your needs. *Subject to minimum interest payment. 8 The Guide to Equity Release in association with The Guide to Equity Release in association with 9

6 Rules for qualification Who qualifies for equity release? The following rules for qualification will normally apply: You must be aged 55 or over You must own a property worth at least 60,000 You must live within the UK The property must be freehold or leasehold with a minimum remaining lease period of 75 years What is Equity Release really like? Before making a decision about releasing equity, you may find it helpful to read about other people s experiences. The examples on the following pages will give you an idea of how you might use a lifetime mortgage or home reversion to free up a cash lump sum. There are plenty of reasons why people decide to release equity. Research carried out by Key Retirement, shows that one of the most popular is to make home and garden improvements, such as a new kitchen, conservatory or driveway. A significant number use their cash to clear outstanding mortgages and help out with regular household bills. Others use it to treat family and friends, go on holidays and make one-off purchases, such as a car. The following case studies are typical of people taking out equity release plans and demonstrate how they can be of benefit in a variety of situations. Did you know? In 2014 there was a 13 per cent increase in the number of new equity release customers from 2013, with 66 per cent of them opting for a drawdown plan. Source: Equity Release Council. 10 The Guide to Equity Release in association with The Guide to Equity Release in association with 11

7 I ve put in 45 years hard work so why shouldn t we be able to reap the benefits! George and Brenda Thomas chose a lifetime mortgage Case study Mr George Thomas and his wife Brenda had always wanted to retire to Cornwall and in 2010 they took early retirement and moved from Newcastle-under-Lyme to St. Ives. We had worked out that we could afford to take early retirement and live our dream if we could pay off the mortgage explained George. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, after they had moved to their new bungalow, they found they were left with a shortfall of 50,000 from their interestonly mortgage, with no way of paying it off. This was why we had to go down the equity release route George continued, we talked it through with our three sons and looked at all sorts of options and angles; downsizing wasn t an option, nobody would give us a mortgage as I was 65, so we were stuck. The couple chose to take the maximum amount as a lump sum so they could pay off the outstanding mortgage and have enough left over to treat themselves to a new campervan. The campervan is the icing on the cake said George. Having been caravan enthusiasts for many years they can now sit back and relax on their trips around Cornwall and the local area. George and Brenda are also intending on exploring further afield and have plans to visit family in Australia in the future. In summary, George added, I ve put in 45 years hard work, so why shouldn t we be able to reap the benefits! *Pictures posed by models In the end it was definitely the right thing to do Christine Stewart opted for a drawdown lifetime mortgage Case study Mrs Christine Stewart (69) has lived in Yorkshire all her life and in Harrogate since 1981, moving to her current home after her husband died suddenly in Having retired from running her floristry business, she now occupies her time with voluntary work and writing for the local newspaper. It was a mixture of factors that prompted Christine to consider equity release. She was concerned about the future and, if she had to give up her part-time job, how this would affect her finances. She also wanted to give her children some money, helping them now when they needed it rather than waiting for their inheritance. After talking to her family, she contacted a local equity release adviser. It was really straightforward explained Christine, my daughter was able to be with me for the first consultation and the adviser was very helpful. Having considered her options, Christine chose a drawdown lifetime mortgage, which would allow her to access the money as and when she needed it. Equity release has enabled her to help her daughter financially and assist her son with a vehicle for his Case studies landscape gardening business. Altogether it was a whole round package summarised Christine, It wasn t just the one thing that made me take equity release, it was a combination. I have the safety net of the drawdown facility and if anything drastic was to happen, I would have no hesitation to use it. In the end it was definitely the right thing to do. 12 The Guide to Equity Release in association with The Guide to Equity Release in association with 13

8 What happens if I want to move Q home in the future? It makes sense to look for flexibility A in equity release plans. Many plans allow you to move home and take your plan with you. Each provider has specific criteria that apply concerning moving home so you should check this when you take out a plan. Is equity release regulated? Q Yes. Equity release is regulated by A the Financial Conduct Authority (formerly Financial Services Authority). This is an independent body reporting to the government that helps to ensure that equity release advice offered to the public Equity release Q & A is fair and meets its required standards. For extra safety, consider equity release plans approved by the Equity Release Council. These will allow you to remain in your property until you and your partner pass away or move into long-term care. Why should I seek advice when Q considering equity release? There are many different products A and offers available at any given time. By receiving independent advice you can be sure that only the plan that best suits your individual circumstances will be recommended to you. Your questions answered Can we still leave an inheritance? Q Yes. A protected lifetime mortgage A or a reversion plan could provide you with some comfort, especially if you don t need to release the maximum amount possible from your home. A protected plan guarantees there will always be an agreed percentage of your home s value to be left to your beneficiaries, regardless of what happens to house prices. Will I have to make any monthly Q payments? No, not unless you choose to do A so with an interest payment plan. Making interest payments will prevent the roll-up of interest over the lifetime of the plan, or reduce the amount owed. Can I apply if I have an Q outstanding mortgage? Yes, equity release providers allow A you to release cash from your home if you have an outstanding mortgage on your property. However, all providers would expect you to use the cash you release to pay off the outstanding mortgage first. Will I be able to stay in my home? Q Yes. You should only consider equity A release plans that guarantee the right to carry on living in your home for as long as you wish. *Pictures posed by models 14 The Guide to Equity Release in association with The Guide to Equity Release in association with 15

9 What next? What do I do next? How you are protected The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulates all equity release plans. The FCA rules state that all promotions must be clear, fair, balanced and not misleading. This should make choosing between plans relatively easy, as information has to be given in such a way that you can compare details. These rules give further protection, security and, if need be, access to compensation schemes. Anyone looking at equity release should consider a plan approved by the Equity Release Council (ERC). Top tip Always look for the Equity Release Council logo on company leaflets and websites All ERC approved equity release plans guarantee that: You will never owe more than the value of your home. This is a no negative equity guarantee You have the right to remain in your home for as long as you choose You have the freedom to move to another property, without financial penalty (subject to provider criteria) These guarantees ensure that, as long as the plan you re considering is offered by an ERC member, your best interests are well protected. To find out more about equity release, and get advice tailored to your particular circumstances, the next step is to contact a specialist, independent adviser. An impartial adviser will find out more about you and your wishes, then research the entire market to find the best equity release solution for you. If you choose to proceed, your adviser will then help you to apply for your plan. Next, an independent surveyor will assess the value of your home and an independent solicitor will also be instructed. Approximately 12 weeks after applying for a plan, you should receive funds from your solicitor to spend in anyway you choose. Sources of help Key Retirement Key are the UK s leading independent specialists in equity release. They can help you look at all your options Solicitors If you decide to take out an equity release plan with an ERC-registered adviser, you are required to take independent legal advice too. If you are not sure which firm to consult, the Law Society website has a Find a solicitor tool. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) You can check your adviser s firm is fully regulated and has permission to advise on lifetime mortgages and home reversion plans by contacting the FCA The Guide to Equity Release in association with The Guide to Equity Release in association with 17

10 Speak to the experts You ve taken your first steps to discovering financial freedom by requesting this exclusive Yours guide, sponsored by Key Retirement. Key are committed to ensuring you have the full story when it comes to unlocking the cash from your home. You can access a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise by choosing this service. Key is: The UK s number-one independent equity release specialist Committed to offering exclusive deals that are regularly the best on the market Consistent consumer and industry award winners Committed to delivering the highest levels of customer care Dedicated to providing each customer with a personalised, professional service Key s award winning service... This is an equity release plan. To understand the features and risks, ask for a personalised illustration. Searching the entire market to find the best plan for you, including... We ve taken this opportunity to provide you with further services, including Retirement Options, Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney. Equity release Retirement Options Wills and Lasting Power of Attorney For impartial information call Key Retirement FREE on Lines are open Monday to Thursday 9am-7pm, Friday 9am-5:30pm and Saturday 9am-1pm Could you boost your retirement income? Call free Lines are open Monday to Wednesday 9am-7pm, Thursday to Friday 9am-5:30pm and Saturday 9am-1pm Peace of mind Call free Lines are open Monday to Thursday 9am-7pm, Friday 9am-5:30pm and Saturday 9am-1pm

11 YOURS Magazine, Bauer Media, Media House, Peterborough Business Park Peterborough, PE2 6EA. Tel: The Guide to Equity Release in association with

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