Equity release lending increased by 42% to £3.06bn in 2017, up from £2.15bn in 2016, figures from the Equity Release Council Show.
The market welcomed over 37,000 customers, with there being £838m of lending in the fourth quarter of 2017.
David Burrowes, chairman of the Equity Release Council, said: “The evolving mindset of consumers is helped by the flexibility to use housing wealth for a range of purposes, and the rigorous safeguards and customer protections in place across the market.
“Consumers also have more choice than ever before – driven by the increasing number of providers that has, in turn, increased the range of product options and helped to push interest rates to new lows.
“Property is, for many people, their largest asset and has the potential to play an ever-greater role in the future to meet the challenge of ensuring effective later life funding.
“I look forward to working with our members and industry, regulators and government across 2018 to build on what has been a breakthrough year for the sector.”
Drawdown products accounted for three quarters (75%) of new customers in the fourth quarter.
Steve Ellis, chief executive of home finance at Legal & General, said: “2017 has clearly been the year of the drawdown lifetime mortgage.
“Lenders have recognised the desire amongst customers for flexible solutions to drawing property wealth in retirement and this has almost certainly supported the rapid growth we have seen this year.
“With £1.5 trillion of property wealth in the hands of the over-55s, there is definitely the potential for this market to continue its strong growth and reach £5bn by 2020.
“However, this will require continued innovation from lenders to provide consumers with improved product flexibility, as well as ongoing support from the wider industry to get more advisers talking about property wealth in their client’s retirement conversation.”
Gemma Harle, managing director of Intrinsic’s mortgage network, said: “Last year the FCA decided to drop plans to create a standalone equity release qualification for financial advisers.
“These figures suggest a review of the qualification would make some sense, given the general direction of travel for retirement planning.
“This would help financial advisers meet the growing demand for a holistic approach to financial planning that includes equity release, whose popularity is growing at a serious pace.”