In this weeks news, the main topc of discussion was the removal of some equity release products due to the increase and volatility of interest rates.
The equity release market has been a hot topic recently, witnessing shifts in product availability, increased potential for homeowners to unlock wealth, and persistent misconceptions amongst potential users. This article aims to shed light on these trends and clarify some commonly misunderstood aspects of equity release.
Recent data has indicated a downward trend in the number of equity release products available. As of June 2023, Moneyfactscompare reported that the product count had decreased to 264, a significant drop from 667 a year prior. Anticipated interest rate rises and the fallout from the previous year's mini budget are considered major contributing factors to this shrinkage. However, despite concerns about the potentially dampening effect of higher interest rates on demand, the Equity Release Council has declared that the market remains robust. It is driven by factors such as the rising cost of living and high housing costs, with equity release loans increasingly being used to help families secure deposits for home purchases.
Simultaneously, homeowners in England and Wales are finding themselves in a fortuitous position. Analysis by Legal & General Home Finance (LGHF) indicates that they could access an average of £67,200 from their homes through equity release, equating to five years' worth of retirement income. This potential increase is a result of a 22% rise in median house prices since 2017. In particular, homeowners in Wales stand to gain significantly as their house prices have risen three times the national average. Notably, equity release allows homeowners to tap into their home's value tax-free, offering a financial buffer in their retirement years.
However, the path to realising this potential is not without its bumps. SunLife's research reveals a substantial knowledge gap among the over 55s regarding equity release. Only 6% of this demographic reportedly understand all key aspects of the product. Most respondents were not aware that most equity release plans allow homeowners to move house, and only 30% were aware of the 'no negative equity' guarantee, which ensures that the debt will never exceed the house's value.
In the face of these misconceptions, it's essential for potential equity release customers to consult with a qualified independent financial adviser. As the equity release landscape continues to evolve, adequate understanding and careful consideration will be crucial in leveraging these products to bolster financial security during retirement years.
As we look ahead, it's clear that the equity release market is dynamic and subject to various internal and external factors. While challenges exist, the robustness of the market and the potential benefits to homeowners are encouraging. It underscores the importance of financial education and advice in helping consumers navigate this valuable yet complex financial landscape.