Equity release - your 2020 guide

  • Keep ownership of your home
  • No monthly payments
  • Release tax free cash
  • Schemes are regulated by the FCA
In this guide: find out what equity release is, how it works, how much equity you could release and how to choose the best scheme

What is equity release?

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Equity release, or Lifetime Mortgage is a tax free way to unlock some of the cash tied up in your home if you’re over the age of 55. The money can be released in one go, or in smaller amounts as required.

It can be used for home or garden improvements, to pay off existing debts or mortgages, for holidays, to help family get a foot on the housing ladder or to improve retirement funds by supplementing their pension pot.

How does equity release work?

The ‘equity' in your home is the difference between its value and any outstanding loans secured against it, such as a mortgage. 

Basically: it’s your money, but as it’s tied up in your house, you don’t readily have access to it.

When you release equity, a loan is secured against your property in return for a tax free cash lump sum.

For example:

  • A house worth £250,000 with no outstanding mortgage against it would have £250,000 worth of equity
  • A house worth £250,000 with an outstanding mortgage of £50,000 would have £200,000 worth of equity

You continue to own your own home and there are no monthly repayments to make.

Instead both the original loan plus interest is only repaid once you have either died, or moved into long term care and the house is sold.

You can use the money however you wish. If your equity release provider agrees, and subject to their terms and conditions, you still have the flexibility to move.

Types of equity release scheme

There are two main options that allow you to release equity from your home and remain living there:

Lifetime mortgage

A lifetime mortgage is the most popular option. It works like a normal mortgage, with a loan secured on your home. The difference is that you don’t have to make any monthly repayments.

Instead the interest builds up over the years and is only repaid when the last surviving plan holder dies or moves into long term care.

Home reversion schemes

These work differently as they’re not loans. With a home reversion scheme, you agree to sell all or part of your home in return for a lump sum of money.

As a result there’s no interest to pay. However, as the value of the property increases, you only benefit from the increase on the percentage of the home that you still own.

Home reversion companies take on the risk of unknown future property prices, so they are likely to offer you less than the actual property value.

When the property is sold upon the last survivor’s death (if joint) or because they’ve moved into a care home, the home reversion company will receive their share of the proceeds.

Am I eligible for equity release?

 To qualify for equity release you will generally have to meet the following conditions:
  • You or the youngest home owner must be 55 years of age or over
  • Your property must be in the UK or Northern Ireland and your main residence
  • Your property must be worth at least £70,000 and in good condition

If you have an existing mortgage you can still release equity from your home. However, that mortgage would need to be fully paid off with the money that is released. 

How much equity can I release?

How much equity you can release will depend on the value of your home and your age. The older you are, the more money you can release, but the maximum is typically between 20% to 50% of the property value.

The average equity loan throughout the UK is currently £78,000, but this varies by region.

Use our equity release calculator to understand how much money you could unlock from your home.

The older you are, the more money you can release and you can still apply for an equity loan if you have an outstanding mortgage on the property; you just need to use the cash you have released to pay off the loan first.

Are equity release schemes regulated?

Lifetime mortgage and home reversion companies are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) which means there are safeguards in place to protect you.

In addition to the FCA controls, most providers are also members of the Equity Release Council (ERC), which sets the standards for equity loans including a ‘No Negative Equity’ guarantee. equity release council logo

This guarantee ensures that once the property is sold and the solicitors and agents fees have been paid, if there is insufficient money remaining to pay the outstanding equity loan, neither you, your family or your estate will be liable to pay any more.

In addition, the ERC also stipulate that members allow homeowners:

  • The right to remain in their home for life or as long as they choose
  • The flexibility to move to another property without financial penalties

Over50choices is also a member of the Equity Release Council and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Is it secure?

Yes, as long as you ensure the provider you choose is a member of the ERC. You can use the ‘find a member’ portal on their website to find out whether your chosen equity release scheme is secure and that you are covered by the no negative equity guarantee.

But taking out an equity loan is a big decision and one that could affect your family and any benefits you may receive, so it does require careful consideration.


Which is the best equity release scheme?

If you’re considering a lifetime mortgage, it’s important to choose a company that is a member of the Equity Release Council so you know they abide by their rules and you are protected.

The 13 providers currently registered with the Council are:

  • Canada Life
  • More 2 Life 
  • Aviva
  • Hodge Lifetime
  • LV
  • Nationwide
  • Responsible Lending
  • Legal & General
  • Just
  • Retirement Plus
  • One Family
  • Pure Retirement
  • Retirement Bridge
legal and general logo hodge lifetime logo just logo aviva logo lv logo canada life logo one family logo pure retirement equity release logo

Getting advice

It’s important to seek professional advice to compare the market and decide whether equity release is a good idea for you. This can be done either through an equity release qualified IFA or an independent broker.

The benefit of using an independent broker is that they will compare equity release plans across the whole of the market and not just individual companies. This will give you a much broader view of the best and most suitable company for you.

Having reviewed the market, we have teamed up with leading award winning specialist, Age Partnership. They offer initial free no obligation help and advice, and have agreed preferential rates with leading lenders that you may not be able to get elsewhere.

They can talk through your requirements and compare leading ERC providers, review the best equity release interest rates and help you decide on the right scheme for you.

Your equity release questions answered

  • Will I still own my own home?
    • Yes, ownership of the property remains with you and you can live in the property for the rest of your life.

  • Can I move home in the future?
    • Yes, you can move home with an equity loan subject to the provider’s scheme rules. All members of the ERC must offer schemes that allow flexibility to move without facing financial penalties.

  • Will my family be left with my debts?
    • No, when the property is sold your outstanding balance will be repaid to the equity release provider and any surplus paid to your family/estate. In the event that you owe more than the property is worth, your family will not be asked for any money, as all plans come with a no negative equity guarantee.

  • What happens if I have to go into care?
    • Should this happen and you have a partner/spouse living in the property then the will continue to do so. If you live alone and are unlikely to return then the property will be sold and the provider repaid and the balance returned to you; your family will be consulted at all times.

  • Can I apply if I still have a mortgage outstanding on the property?
    • Yes, although this will need to be repaid from the new equity release mortgage. Our advisers can advise you on this.

  • How long will it take to apply?
    • Applying is simple and your adviser will help you with this once you have decided to proceed.

      Once you have applied it typically takes around 6 to 8 weeks to get all the legal paperwork and mortgage in place.

  • I'm not sure what to do or where to start!
    • Don't worry, you are not alone.

      Releasing equity from your home can seem quite daunting, but the specialists at Age Partnership are here to help. They will not talk financial jargon at you but instead they will hold your hand all the way through the process, help you compare equity release plans and answer any questions you may have or concerns.

      To start, why not use the equity release calculator to see how much you could borrow, if you're not sure of your property value just take a guess, it doesn't matter as we can help you with this.

We know it's a big decision!

That's why we have teamed up with Age Partnership one of the UK's leading equity release specialists.

Find out how much cash you could release by clicking on the button below.

Equity Release Calculator

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