The research on almost 2,000 consumers suggests that while some people enter retirement with debt due to unforeseen circumstances, others cannot see themselves repaying their borrowing before they retire.
Indeed 23% of those aged 55-64 believe they will retire owing an average of £65,955 and 17% of 45-54 year olds believe they will still owe £48,037 on their mortgage when they finish work.
The proportion of people who believe they will retire with mortgage debt increases the closer they get to retirement.
The ERC suggests that set-backs in later life such as an underperforming endowment or windfalls which fail to materialise mean more people will actually be facing this problem than anticipated.
Mortgages are not the only debts that people expect to enter retirement with and over a quarter (26%) of 55 -64s expect to retire owing £2,453 on their credit cards.
In total the typical 55 -64 year old believes that when they finish work they will owe £16,575 on a mortgage and other types of borrowing such as credit cards, personal loans and hire purchase.
Andrea Rozario, director general of The Equity Release Council, said: “Many people find that due to unforeseen circumstances they enter retirement with a small amount of debt but the fact that over 400,000 people expect to still be repaying their mortgage when they retire is shocking.
“This suggests that the trend towards people buying homes later in life and remortgaging on a regular basis is having an impact on the type of retirement that people can expect to enjoy.
“With 73% of people intending to use housing equity as part of their later life finances, many are sure to use it to solve the problem of repaying a mortgage or other debt in retirement.
“Downsizing might be the answer for those with more valuable homes but many 55 – 64s will struggle to repay over £65,000 worth of borrowing and still buy another property.
“Equity release is likely to provide many of these people with the opportunity to repay their borrowing and thus ease their financial burden while remaining in the homes.”
Just Retirement recently published findings from the largest study ever undertaken into consumer attitudes and usage of housing equity withdrawal and found similar evidence to that published by the ERC.
Of those people at and approaching retirement significant numbers continue to have outstanding mortgage debt.
Stephen Lowe, group external affairs and customer insight director at specialist retirement income provider Just Retirement, said: “What’s concerning is 25% have no plans how to repay the debt and one in four expects to continue repaying the loan with their retirement income.
“Our research shows the baby boomer generation are far more disposed to using their housing assets to support their financial needs in retirement than previous generations. We are already seeing growing numbers turn to downsizing and equity release to provide solutions.”