Steady rise of equity release in UK housing market continues

Some £8.2 million of housing wealth was withdrawn in the UK every working day in the second quarter of 2016 as equity release lending passed £0.5 billion for the first quarter on record. Overall there was £514.4 million of lending in quarter two, up 34% year on year and 58% higher than in the second quarter of 2014, according to the latest figures from the Equity Release Council. The council report points out that the three busiest quarters for equity release lending have all come within the last 12 months and the annual rise in the number of new plans agreed is the fastest seen in 13 years. Common uses for equity release include paying off existing mortgages and loans, providing extra retirement income, funding home improvements or care related adaptations, paying for travel or other one off expenses, and gifting money to family members as a ‘living inheritance’. The council also says that over 55s increased appetite to use housing wealthy has been supported by market developments which include new providers and increasing choice of products and features emerging. In addition, the market received support from the regulator in April when they amended the legislation to allow optional interest repayments to be exempt from mortgage affordability rules. Year on year, the council’s figures show the biggest percentage growth in the value of lending in the second quarter of the year was for lump sum lifetime mortgages, typically involving a larger release of housing wealth in a single payment, up 37% or £56.8 million compared to the second quarter of 2015. However, lending via drawdown lifetime mortgages, allowing consumers to make multiple withdrawals of equity as and when needed, continued to account for the larger share of the market, growing 31% or £72.4 million to £304 million compared to the second quarter of 2015. Home reversion plans also experienced a rise in the second quarter of 2016 with the total value of activity more than doubling year on year from £623,647 in the second quarter of 2015 to £1.5 million. Looking at new customers’ product choices, some 67% opted for drawdown products in the second quarter, up from 65% a year earlier, while the share of lump sum products dipped slightly from 35% to 33%. With market activity having grown significantly during that time, the number of new drawdown plans agreed was up 27% year on year compared with 16% for lump sum plans. Overall, it meant the total volume of new plans agreed across the whole market was up 23% year on year, the highest annual growth rate in nearly 13 years since the third quarter of 2003. The 6,671 new plans agreed was the largest quarterly total since the fourth quarter of 2008. ‘These figures are the latest sign that UK home owners increasingly see housing wealth as a fundamental part of their retirement funding plans. The long term rise of house prices… Continue reading

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