Equity Release Myths

5 Myths About Equity Release Answered

Do you have questions about how equity release works? You’re not alone. Confusion around equity release prevents many people from considering this popular form of financing.

A common type of equity release in the UK is a lifetime mortgage, which allows a homeowner to access a portion of their home’s value as a one-off tax-free payment. This amount, as well as the interest accumulated, only needs to be repaid when you move into long-term care, pass away, or sell your home.

Here we unpack five common myths around equity release and explain how equity release can improve your finances.

Myth 1: Your Family Could Owe MORE Than Your Property Value

If you purchase your equity release plan from an Equity Release Council1 approved provider; you will get an assurance that you will never owe more than the worth of your house after its sale. This assurance is called a no-negative-equity guarantee.

What does this mean for you?

The no-negative-equity guarantee means that if your home sells for less than the mortgage value; the difference will be written off. Usually, any funds left over after the mortgage has been settled will be paid to the beneficiaries in your will.

Myth 2: You Will Have to Pay Monthly Instalments

A lifetime mortgage2 does not come with monthly payments unless you chose to structure your repayments this way. Some plans allow for optional payments of 10% or less of the mortgage balance annually, penalty-free.

You might be asking yourself:

What if I choose to structure your repayments differently? With this option, interest on the borrowed amount may add up over the years. This interest will have to be paid upon your death or when you relocate into permanent long-term care. If your equity release product was taken as a couple, it would carry on as one of the individuals remains living in your house.

Myth 3: You Will No Longer Own Your Property

An equity release product is not the same as selling your home. Instead, you are borrowing against your home. This means that you will maintain ownership of your property.

You, like many people, could be unsure how a lifetime mortgage differs from a conventional mortgage.

In simple terms

A lifetime mortgage is, in essence, a long-term loan, which you repay with your property. A key difference is that it has no fixed end date.

What this means is that the mortgage will last for the length of time you require it. A lifetime mortgage has the added benefit of being well suited to older homeowners, as many product options are specifically designed for those in their 60s.

Myth 4: A Mortgage Prevents You from Releasing Equity on Your House

If you have a mortgage on your house, you will still be able to release equity on your house. An often-cited reason for taking out a lifetime mortgage is to leverage the value of your home to repay an existing mortgage.

What does this mean for you?

A lifetime mortgage allows the customer to receive cash in return and for the equivalent of the first charge on their home. This cash can be used, in the same legal transaction, to repay an existing mortgage. The lifetime mortgage also gives them the benefit of a life term with no concerns over repayment.

Those who want to make repayments regularly or monthly can choose a plan that suits them, and this can be deducted via direct debit order. Should the customer be unable to pay, or miss three instalments, the mortgage will automatically switch to rolled-up interest instead of defaulting.

Myth 5: Equity Release Will Affect Your Family’s Inheritance

In the last few years, lifetime mortgages have become more flexible, with numerous products and plans available. Some options will let you keep a portion of your equity aside to leave to your family as an inheritance.

And the good news?

If you would prefer, your beneficiaries could receive financial support before your death as equity release can be used to provide them with an early bequest. However, this option will leave you with less equity for you to use later and may decrease your estate’s value.

Did you know

Financial gifts and loans are usually given to the younger generation – between 25 and 44 years old – according to data from the Office for National Statistics. In the last two years, around 10% of those in the age group gifted or loaned over £500.

The older generation often wants what they had in their youth for their children and grandchildren, and this could explain the increase in equity release over the last year. In the third quarter of last year, homeowners released around £11m daily from their properties. A large proportion of this will likely go to assist younger family members in purchasing property or funding schooling and living expenses.

A Few Common Questions

Are There Drawbacks to Equity Release?
Is Equity Release Regulated?
Can I Sell My House After Taking Equity Release?
Can My Age Affect My Eligibility for Equity Release?

In Conclusion

Equity release allows you to use the value to your home to borrow funds and is a popular option among the older generation. Products such a lifetime mortgage can give you funds without many of the disadvantages of a conventional load and offer the guarantee that you will never owe more than the value of your home. This form of borrowing has proven a safe and popular way to allow homeowners to access financing.

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