Equity release is a big decision. It's important that you understand the key terms and features of this type of financial product so that you fully understand what you're entering into. We recommend consulting an equity release broker, as well as discussing your plans with your family or anyone who would be a beneficiary of your estate. To help you understand some of the jargon used when talking about equity release, take a look below.
To downsize means you sell your home to buy a smaller one, or one that is of lower value. By downsizing, you could release some of the money tied up in your home.
Drawdown Lifetime Mortgage
A drawdown lifetime mortgage is a type of lifetime mortgage that allows you to release money as and when you need it, up to an agreed limit. The mortgage is secured against your home.
The advantage of a drawdown lifetime mortgage is that interest only begins being charged once the money is released. However, the amount you owe will continue to grow as interest is applied on the amount borrowed and on the interest already accrued over the long term.
The lifetime mortgage is repaid when you or the last surviving borrower living in the property dies or moves into permanent long-term care.
Early Repayment Charge (ERC)
If you choose to, you can repay your lifetime mortgage at any time (either in cash, or by selling your home). However, if you do there may be a fee to pay in addition to paying back the money you released - this is known as an early repayment charge.
There isn't an early repayment charge with a home reversion plan because you will have sold part of your home to a home reversion provider. If you wanted to buy back the share of the property you sold, you would have to do so at the current full market value.
The amount (or percentage) of your home that you own, above any mortgage or other debts that may be outstanding on the property. So if you own your own home outright, you own 100% of the equity in the property.
Equity Release Council
The Equity Release Council is the industry body for the equity release sector. They represent the providers, qualified financial advisers, lawyers, intermediaries and surveyors who work in the equity release sector.
A major focus of the Equity Release Council's work is to ensure that products are safe and accessible for consumers. Each member of the Council that provides equity release products is signed up to the Equity Release Council's Statement of Principles which puts in place a number of safeguards and guarantees for consumers. This means that people who use equity release products offered by Equity Release Council members can have confidence in the products they use and the information they receive. On top of this, all members also abide by the overarching principles of the Council. Read more about the Equity Release Council and their Statement of Principles.
Equity Release Plan
A way that you can unlock the money tied up in your home to help finance your retirement. There are two types of equity release plan: home reversion and lifetime mortgages. Equity release is normally available to you if you are aged 55 or over and own your own home worth over £70,000. Plans are only available on your main residence, which must be in the UK. (There are some plans that can be used on Buy to Let properties). The minimum age, property value and eligibility varies between product providers.
When you die everything you own (after any borrowing has been deducted), is known as your estate. Equity release will reduce the value of your estate.
This type of equity release plan works by you selling part, or all, of your home to a reversion company. The company buys its portion of your home at under market value, banking on house prices to rise so that it makes a profit. Unlike a lifetime mortgage, the percentage of your home that you own never changes. So if you sell 50% of it to the home reversion company it remains as that percentage and will not increase.
A few equity release plans will let you take your money as income rather than a lump sum. Remember though that the income may only be payable for a set period, after which point it may stop. If you are considering using this option it is also worth getting advice about the possibility of releasing a lump sum. You could then use the lump sum to secure an income in your retirement.
Inheritance Protection Guarantee
An Inheritance Protection Guarantee means that you can preserve a portion of your home's value as an inheritance. Having an Inheritance Protection Guarantee will reduce the amount of money that you can release from your home and may result in a higher interest rate being charged.
This tax is paid on death from the proceeds of your estate. The tax is charged at 40% on the value of your estate in excess of £325,000. A surviving spouse/civil partner does not have to pay this tax, and the deceased allowance of £325,000 may be carried over. This means that for married couples/civil partners where a partner has passed away the surviving partner has an allowance of £650,000. There is an additional Inheritance Tax Allowance available when a family home is passed down to the deceased person's children. There are also exemptions available for cash gifts made in each tax year. Our guide to Tax an equity release explains more.
Equity release plans run until the money is repaid, or until the last borrower moves into permanent long-term care or dies. So having a joint equity release plan means that your spouse or partner would not have to move home if they outlive you, or you have to move into permanent long-term care.
This form of equity release works by you borrowing, or releasing, a percentage of your home's value, which is secured against your home. The percentage you can release will depend on your age, with older borrowers able to release higher percentages than younger borrowers.
Interest is charged on the amount you release and the amount you owe increases over time as interest is accrued. The mortgage and interest are repaid on death, or if you must move into permanent long-term care. You don't have to make any repayments but there are some providers who do allow regular repayments to be made should you wish to.
This is the percentage of the property's value that you owe the equity release provider. You can only borrow up to a certain Loan to Value (e.g. 50%), and as interest is added to a lifetime mortgage the percentage you owe may increase over time, especially if house prices grow slowly.
Most equity release plans will allow you to take your money as a cash lump sum. This lump sum is tax-free.
No Negative Equity Guarantee
This feature of most lifetime mortgages ensures that neither you nor your loved ones will ever owe more than 100% of your home's value when this sold following you moving into long term care or passing away. Providers that are members of the Equity Release Council offer this guarantee as standard.
When equity release borrowing can be taken from one home to another if you decide to move. All equity release plans offered by Equity Release Council members have to be portable and charge no penalty if you do move home - this is subject to the new property meeting the provider's lending criteria.
On a lifetime mortgage, this is the addition of interest to the amount you have borrowed. The interest charged is earned on the amount of cash released plus previously-accumulated interest. When the rate compounds monthly this refers to how often the interest is capitalised (debited to the account). Interest doesn't have to compound monthly, for example it could be any number of times per year or other unit of time - yearly, half-yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly or daily.
Home reversion plans are where you sell all, or part of your home to a home reversion company. It is then this company that owns the portion of your home that you sold.
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Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.