Equity release lending and plan sales hit new all-time high for first quarter

Michael Lloyd

May 9, 2018

Retired homeowners make an average £74,000 from their homes, Key Retirement’s Q1 2018 Equity Release Market Monitor found.

Gifting is continuing to drive expansion in the equity release market, with one in four pensioners using property wealth to help their family. Around 30 retired homeowners a day gave away some or all of the cash they released from their houses in the first three months of the year,

The numbers using property wealth for gifting increased to 26% from 22% in the first quarter with over 2,700 retired homeowners helping family with a wide range of issues including house deposits, university and school fee, debt repayment, holidays and even starting businesses.

Dean Mirfin, chief product officer at Key Retirement, said: “Gifting is a major motivation for equity release and our data shows it is more a case of parents and grandparents wanting to gift rather than children asking for help.

“They’re motivated by the desire to help when the money is really needed and being around to see the difference that it makes. In addition, equity release enables them to have some control over how the money is ultimately used.

“They are being helped in this by a very competitive market place with rates fixed for life at their lowest ever levels as increased competition and new lenders means rates on plans are lower than many mainstream lenders’ variable rates.”

The total value of property wealth released to the end of March grew by 23% on the previous year to £777m and plan sales increased by 22% to 10,495 – both new record highs for the first quarter.

Homeowners gained an average £74,047 tax-free each by using equity release,demonstrating the importance of property wealth in retirement planning with Londoners making the most on average at £128,400.

The most popular use of the cash was to fund home and garden improvements with 63% of retired homeowners spending money on their houses. However, the size of the average amounts being released means 31% were also able to pay for holidays.

Debt remains a major issue in retirement with a fifth (21%) paying off existing mortgages including interest-only capital repayments and 30% clearing credit cards and loans.

The South East of England accounted for more than a quarter of all equity release sales and nearly 30% of total lending.

Across the country almost all 12 regions saw growth in the overall value of property wealth released and the number of plans sold year-on-year, with East Anglia recording the biggest increase in property wealth released and the West Midlands seeing the biggest rise in plan sales.

The total value of property wealth released soared by 54% in East Anglia and plan sales surged by 52% in the West Midlands.

Other hotspots for property wealth released included Scotland at 46% and the West Midlands by 42%, while strong areas for rising sales of plans included East Anglia at 47% and the East Midlands on 33%. Only Northern Ireland saw plan sales and property wealth released drop year-on-year.

Around 68% of all sales were drawdown plans, including 16% in enhanced drawdown which offers enhanced terms to people with health or lifestyle conditions.  Single advance lifetime mortgages accounted for 32% of sales of which 17% were enhanced products.

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