Could equity release be the new normal for older homeowners in the UK?

According to recent findings in a report by the equity release specialists at Key on how much property wealth older homeowners released in 2020, older homeowners in the North West released over £200 million in equity release in 2020 alone. The report also stated that, in all, older homeowners released over £3.4 billion in property wealth in the same year which proves that, perhaps spurred on by uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, more people than ever before are choosing to release equity in their home. 

According to Key CEO, Will Hale: “Discretionary spending has fallen as equity release increasingly looks to support clients’ aspirations to help their families and make their finances as resilient as possible by refinancing debt.  While most people aspire to reach retirement without any mortgage or unsecured debt, this is certainly not possible for everyone and equity release can help to take the pressure off these families while still providing avenues for repayment.

What is equity release?

For anyone over the age of 55 with a mortgage, equity release offers pretty much exactly what it says on the tin – it releases the equity tied up in your home. This equity can be taken either as a lump sum or regular smaller amounts and allows older homeowners to actually enjoy their equity rather than have it tied up in a mortgage they might not pay off in their lifetimes.

North West equity release stats

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The Key report found that in the North West specifically, there were 4,000 equity release plans sold in 2020. Regionally, the only other areas where there were more sales were the South West and the South East. Indeed, there were more plans sold in the North West than in London! This proves that there is a real market in the region, even though the market was down 6.8% from 2019.

Equity release trends

Given the recent turmoil caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many families have been re-evaluating their finances. Millions have been left jobless by the pandemic and those that might have been considering retirement anyway might have seen it as the perfect excuse to take that leap.

It’s also unfortunately true that there are many families in dire need at the moment and there are perhaps hundreds of older homeowners who might have released equity in their home to help out their family members. Financial resilience is bound to be a perpetual marker by which we’re all judged in the coming months and years, after all.

Is now a good time to release equity?

The only one who can answer that question is you. But, if you know there are thousands of pounds going unused and you’d rather live your life for now rather than for a future that might never happen, it’s certainly not a bad time.

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