Your equity release questions answered


Your equity release questions answered main image

Equity release – What is it?

What is equity release?

Equity release is a type of loan that lets you access tax free cash tied up in your home. There are no monthly repayments to make and you continue to own your home. The loan is only repaid once you die or move into long-term care and your property is sold.

What is equity?

Equity is the value of your home minus any loans you have against it. For example, if your property is worth £350,000 and you have a £100,000 mortgage, your equity would be £250,000.

What are the different types of equity release?

There are two types of equity release:

  • A lifetime mortgage – this is the most popular option. A loan is secured against your property and repaid once you die or move into long-term care and your property is sold.
  • A home reversion plan – you sell all or part of your home but continue living in it rent free until you die or move into long term care.

What is a lifetime mortgage?

A lifetime mortgage is one of the two types of equity release. A loan is secured against your property and repaid once you die or move into long term care. The money you receive is tax free, there are no monthly repayments and you continue to own 100% of the property.

What is a home reversion plan?

A home reversion plan is a type of equity release. You sell all or part of your home but continue living there until you die or move into long term care. At this point the property is sold and the home reversion company receives their proceeds from the sale, based on the percentage of the property they own.

What is the difference between a lifetime mortgage and a home reversion plan?

The main difference between a lifetime mortgage and a home reversion plan is property ownership. With a lifetime mortgage, a loan is secured against your home, so you continue to own 100% of the property.

With a home reversion plan, you agree to sell all or part of your home, so you can remain living there, but will no longer own 100% of the property value.

What is the difference between equity release and a lifetime mortgage?

Equity release lets you access tax free money that is tied up in your home. A lifetime mortgage is the most popular type of equity release available to homeowners aged 55 and over. The other option is a home reversion plan.

What is the difference between equity release and remortgaging?

Remortgaging and equity release are quite different in the way they work and how they are repaid. When you remortgage, you are required to make monthly repayments, so affordability is taken into account. With equity release there are no monthly repayments, so your financial status is not a concern.

Equity release – How does it work?

How does equity release work?

Equity release lets you access the tax free money you have tied up in your home. The money can be released in one lump sum or as and when you need it and there’s no monthly repayments. Instead, the loan and interest are repaid once you die or move into long-term care and your property is sold.

Do you still own your own home with a lifetime mortgage?

With a lifetime mortgage you still own 100% of the property. Once you have died or moved into long-term care, your property is sold and the loan and the interest repaid. Any remaining funds will then go to your beneficiaries.

How much equity can I release?

The amount of equity you can release with a lifetime mortgage is between 20% to 60% of your property value. The actual equity you can release will depend on your age, or the age of the youngest homeowner if you are applying in joint names and the value of your property.

To get an idea of how much equity you can release based on your age and property value, use our free equity release calculator.

Can I take out equity release if I have an existing mortgage?

You can release equity from your home if you have an existing mortgage on your property, but you will need to pay off the outstanding amount with the money you release.

How can you use equity release?

You can use the tax free cash you get with equity release however you want. Perhaps to pay off an outstanding mortgage or debt, to make home improvements, to help boost retirement income or to help family financially.

Can I sell my house if I have equity release on it?

You have the flexibility to move home if you have equity release as long as your lender is happy with the new property. In fact, one of the Equity Release Council’s guarantees states that equity release customers must have the right to move to another property, subject to the lenders approval.

Can I rent out my house if I have equity release on it?

You cannot rent out your home with equity release on it if it means you no longer live in the property. If you move out, the property would need to be sold and the lender repaid.

You can get equity release on a property you share with a lodger, however this may limit the lenders available to you and the lodger would need to sign a ‘waiver of occupancy’.

What happens to equity release if I move into long-term care?

If you are the only surviving equity release homeowner and you move into long-term care, your property will be sold and the lifetime mortgage repaid. If the plan is in joint names and your spouse or partner is still alive, they are entitled to live in the property until they die or go into permanent care.

Can I change my equity release plan?

You can change your equity release plan either to switch to a better deal with lower interest rates or to release additional cash.

How will equity release affect my family?

A lifetime mortgage is repaid from the proceeds of the sale of your home when you die or move into long term care. This means it will reduce any inheritance you planned to leave for family. However, some equity release plans give you the option to protect a percentage of the property value, therefore guaranteeing an inheritance for family.

Can I still leave an inheritance for family?

You can still guarantee an inheritance for family with equity release by choosing a protected lifetime mortgage. This gives you the option to protect a percentage of the property value, guaranteeing an inheritance for family.

Will equity release affect my benefits?

As the money you receive with equity release forms part of your savings, it may affect any means-tested benefits you currently receive. A specialist equity release advisor could help you understand if this is a possibility and advise you on the best course of action.

Equity release – how is it repaid?

How is equity release paid back?

The equity release loan and the interest accrued are repaid from the sale of the property once the homeowner has died or moved into long-term care.

How much do you pay back on equity release?

The amount paid back on equity release will depend on the size of the loan, how long the lifetime mortgage has been in place and how much interest has accrued.

What is the interest rate on equity release?

Equity release interest rates range from 3% to 7%. The interest rates available to you will depend on your age, credit history and the product you choose.

Are lifetime mortgage interest rates fixed?

Lifetime mortgage interest rates are either fixed for the life of the plan or variable with a capped upper limit.

Do you have to make monthly repayments with a lifetime mortgage?

There are no monthly payments with a lifetime mortgage as the interest is added to the loan and repaid once you die or move into long-term care.

Can I make monthly repayments on a lifetime mortgage?

Some lifetime mortgages let you make monthly repayments against all or some of the interest. This will reduce the size of the overall loan when it comes to repayment.

Can you pay back equity release early?

You can pay back equity release early but you may incur early repayment charges. Some lifetime mortgages allow you to make partial repayments on a regular or ad hoc basis, however this will be a feature of all plans going forward as it now forms part of the Equity Release Council’s product standards

How does the compound interest on equity release work?

Compound interest is where you are charged interest on the loan and the interest already accrued. So, your equity release loan grows at a quicker rate compared to a standard residential mortgage as you are being charged interest on the interest already built up.

Do I pay tax on equity release?

The money you release with a lifetime mortgage is tax free, so you are not liable to pay tax on it.

Equity release – Is it safe?

Is equity release safe?

Equity release is safe and customers are protected as the market is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and overseen by the Equity Release Council (ERC). This means equity release providers must be FCA authorised and ERC members must adhere to their strict rules and safeguards.

Is equity release regulated?

Equity release is tightly regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, with additional safeguards, standards and rules set by the Equity Release Council.

What is the Equity Release Council?

The Equity Release Council is a trade body that alongside the Government and the FCA, set the standards for equity release products and services. If you are considering releasing equity from your home, choosing an ERC registered lender will ensure you are protected by their 5 product standards:

  1. Interest rates on lifetime mortgages must be fixed or variable with a capped upper limit that is fixed for the life of the loan
  2. You have the right to live in your property until you die or move into long-term care
  3. You have the right to move to a new property as long as it is approved by your lender
  4. There must be a ‘no negative equity’ guarantee that ensures your family or estate will not be liable to pay if the proceeds from the sale of your property are insufficient to repay the loan
  5. Customers must have the right to make penalty free partial repayments, subject to lending criteria

Will my family end up in debt?

Choosing an equity release company that is a member of the Equity Release Council means your family are protected by their ‘no negative equity’ guarantee. This ensures your family will not be asked to pay a penny if the money from the sale of your property is insufficient to repay the loan.

Will I lose my home?

You retain complete ownership of your home with equity release and will not lose it as long as you abide by the terms of the contract.

What does ‘no negative equity’ mean

The ‘no negative equity’ guarantee means that your estate will never owe more than the property value when it comes to repaying the loan. So, if the proceeds of the sale are insufficient to clear the debt, neither the estate or your family will be asked to pay a penny more.

Equity release – Is it a good idea?

Is equity release a good idea?

Equity release could be a good idea if you’re 55 or older and want to free up some cash from your property without having to move home. The money you release is tax free, yours to use how you wish, with no monthly repayments. The interest does grow quickly however, so it’s worth considering all your options.

For more information, take a look at our list of equity release pros and cons.

What are the pitfalls of equity release?

The main drawbacks of an equity release lifetime mortgage are:

  • Interest rates tend to be higher compared to standard residential mortgages
  • The interest is compounded meaning it grows more quickly
  • It will impact your family’s inheritance as the loan is repaid from the sale of your property
  • You may face penalty fees if you wish to repay the loan
  • Means tested state benefits could be affected

Is equity release a con?

Equity release should not be considered as a con as it is tightly regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Whether a lifetime mortgage is appropriate for you will depend on your needs and personal circumstances.

Are there any alternatives to equity release?

There are several alternatives to equity release which are worth taking into consideration before choosing a lifetime mortgage. These include budgeting, downsizing, remortgaging, credit cards or loans, renting out a room, borrowing from family, getting a job or checking if there are benefits you are entitled to.

A qualified equity release advisor should explore the options with you to help you decide if a lifetime mortgage is the best course of action, or if there is a better alternative solution.

Equity release – How do I apply

Am I eligible for equity release?

To be eligible for a lifetime mortgage, you or the youngest homeowner if arranging a plan in joint names must be 55 years of age or older. Your property should be worth at least £70,000 and it must be your main residence.

How do I arrange a lifetime mortgage?

To arrange a lifetime mortgage, consider seeking professional advice. Speaking to a qualified lifetime mortgage specialist like Age Partnership could help, as they can talk through your options, advise you on whether a lifetime mortgage is the right course of action and if so, compare leading lenders.

Their initial advice is absolutely free. You only pay for their services if you decide to go ahead.

Can you arrange equity release in joint names?

If the property is owned by two people, you can arrange a lifetime mortgage in joint names. Both homeowners must be 55 or older and the percentage equity you can release will be based on the age of the youngest applicant.

Placing a plan in joint names means that when the first person dies or moves into care, the surviving homeowner can continue to live in the property. If the plan is in a single name and that person dies, the surviving spouse or partner would need to move out so the property can be sold and the loan repaid. 

How much does equity release cost?

The cost of arranging an equity release lifetime mortgage is between £2,000 to £3,000 and includes the following fees:

  • Professional advice
  • Lender’s arrangement fees
  • Surveyors’ fees
  • Solicitors’ fees

Some deals may include certain fees or other cash back incentives, which is why speaking to a specialist broker like Age Partnership could help.

Can I still get equity release with a bad credit score?

A lifetime mortgage is repaid by the sale of your property when you die or move into long-term care, so you can still release equity even if you have a bad credit score.

How long does equity release take to arrange?

It usually takes between 6 to 10 weeks to arrange a lifetime mortgage, as long as there are no complications.

Try the calculator & get a quote



Don't miss out...

Sign up to our monthly newsletter for the latest updates