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Equity release competition continues to surge

Equity release competition continues to surge

Category: Retirement

Updated: 14/09/2017
First Published: 13/09/2017

It's little wonder that the equity release market is booming, what with rising house prices allowing older homeowners to benefit from a significant boost in equity, and with growing numbers potentially facing pension poverty it couldn't come at a better time. Happily, providers are accommodating this rising demand, as competition continues to surge.

Product options triple

Latest figures from the Equity Release Council show that the number of product options has grown significantly in the past decade, with a total of 78 products currently available from Council members. This is up from 24 in 2007, and equates to a rise of 225% in the last 10 years; add to that the increase of 34% (or 20 products) in the last year alone, and customers have plenty of options as well as far greater flexibility compared with years gone by.

This rapid expansion comes alongside growth in the wider market, with total equity release lending reaching a record of almost £1.4 billion in H1 2017, up from £0.9 billion in H1 2016. If this trend continues, the Equity Release Council predicts that annual lending will reach £3 billion for the first time in 2017, a far cry from 10 years ago, when annual lending totalled just £1.2 billion.

Greater flexibility…

Borrowers can also benefit from greater flexibility, with the rise in product choice accompanying a rise in innovation. Some recent innovative features include:

  • Ad-hoc repayments. As of August 2017, 68% of products allow customers to make ad-hoc repayments free from early repayment charges, rather than restricting them to repay the loan on the sale of the property, thereby helping to reduce the amount of interest accrued over the lifetime of the loan.

  • Drawdown, another increasingly popular option and a feature of 52% of products. This allows housing wealth to be withdrawn in stages, rather than the lump sum arrangement that was previously more common.

  • Inheritance protection (51%). This feature enables the ringfencing of a guaranteed minimum amount of housing wealth to be left to loved ones, something that could be particularly suitable for those who've shied away from equity release for fear that they wouldn't be able to leave an inheritance.

  • Downsizing protection. Almost half (45%) of plans now include this feature (which typically requires a qualifying period of five years), allowing customers to downsize to a smaller property and repay the loan, either voluntarily or if the new property doesn't fit the providers' criteria, without incurring an early repayment charge.

  • Improved interest payment facilities. One in 10 products now allow full or partial interest payments to be made each month, which can stop or reduce interest being rolled up so there's less to pay on sale of the property. It's possible to switch to roll-up arrangements at any time, too, so there's no need to worry about defaulting.

… and record low rates

The level of innovation is going hand in hand with rising competition as providers seek to compete for your business, and that's having a knock-on effect on interest rates.

Indeed, Moneyfacts' figures show that the average lifetime equity release rate (including both fixed and variable deals) hit a record low of 5.19% in August, down from 5.38% at the start of the year and a significant drop from 5.76% in August 2016, while the average fixed rate fell to 5.51%, another record low and well below both January's rate of 5.72% and August 2016's average of 6.15%.

Both rates have edged up in recent weeks, but by minimal amounts, so they're still among some of the lowest recorded. This all means that equity release borrowers have never had it better, so what are you waiting for? Equity release could be a great way to free up cash for retirement, so contact our no obligation equity release consultation service to see if it could be worth considering.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.

 
 
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