Homeowners at risk of undervaluing retirement money

Michael Lloyd

February 27, 2018

Homeowners are undervaluing their property as a source of income, Retirement Advantage has warned.

Nearly one in four do not know whether their home is worth more than their pension, up from 5% last year.

Alice Watson, head of product and marketing at Retirement Advantage, said: “There is a burning need for us to take a more holistic view of the way all our assets, including property, could provide for us in retirement.

“The move away from defined benefit pension schemes and a decade of stagnant wage growth has left a generation of people facing a retirement savings gap.

“At the same time, we know that for most people, property is the most valuable asset they own and worth more than they hold in pensions and savings.

“And yet we still find evidence of a collective blindspot when it comes to property supporting retirement income.”

Some 42% thought their workplace or personal pension would provide the most financial support in retirement, while just 19% ranked property first. Among over-55s, more people back the state pension (18%) than property wealth (17%).

Watson added: “Tomorrow’s retirees depend on us being able to break down the barriers which are deterring people from tapping into property wealth alongside other assets.”

The report found just one in seven over-55s (13%) discuss their retirement finances with their children and 29% of over-55s don’t discuss retirement finances with any family members at all.

In addition, separate research by Retirement Advantage last year found nearly six in 10 over-55s will not consult professional financial advice.

Watson said: “We know from talking to financial advisers that often children are sceptical of products which allow their parents to unlock some of the value in their home – or that retirees are wary of undermining what they plan to leave as inheritance.

“In either case, getting next of kin involved can be the route to greater peace of mind. The good news is that growing numbers of people are starting to recognise what the value in their property could yield. For example, a record £3 billion was taken out in equity release in the UK last year.

“Options such as equity release and buy-to-let mortgages for over 55s will not be right for everyone. But financial advisers are in a unique position to help customers overcome barriers which at least allow for a sensible consideration of the options available.”

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