Is Releasing Equity with Equity Release Right For You in 2024?
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- Equity release allows senior homeowners to unlock capital from their property, which can be used for various purposes including holidays, home improvements, or debt repayment.
- It's important to consider the amount of equity needed and the long-term impact, including reduced estate value and accumulated interest.
- Assessing personal financial situations, like income and expenses, is crucial before deciding on equity release.
- Alternatives to equity release, such as downsizing or renting out space, should be explored as they might be more suitable in some cases.
- Consulting with an independent financial advisor is essential for understanding the implications of equity release and making an informed decision.
‘Is equity release right for me?’
This is a critical question many UK homeowners find themselves grappling with when considering options for accessing capital tied up in their homes.
As you approach retirement, the thought of financial security becomes more important than ever, which could be why more than 90,000 Britons decided that equity release was right for them in 2022.1
The equity release question becomes even more pertinent when you consider that over 50s own 78% of all of the UK's privately held housing wealth and those over 65 hold an estimated £2,6 trillion of net housing wealth.2
That being said, whether you should consider equity release is very much dependent on you.
In This Article, You Will Discover:
This article serves as a comprehensive guide to understanding equity release. At Every Investor, we aim to equip you with the knowledge needed to start evaluating if equity release could be suitable for your unique situation and future aspirations. Consider this a preparatory step before consulting a financial advisor.
Read on to find out what you’ll need to consider.
What Exactly Does Equity Release Mean?
Equity release is a financial tool that lets you access the wealth tied up in your home without having to sell it.
It's an option for those over 55, offering a way to tap into your property's value while you continue living there.
There are two main types: lifetime mortgages and home reversion plans.
With a lifetime mortgage, you borrow against your home, repayable later.
Home reversion involves selling a part of your property in exchange for a lump sum or regular income, while still living there.
Read More: What Does Equity Release Mean?
8 Things You Must Consider to Determine: Is Equity Release Right for Me?
The eight things you must consider when asking yourself, "Is it a good idea to release equity?", include questions like why you need access to capital and how much of it you require.
Here’s the full list of questions to ask yourself:
- Why do I need the money?
- How much money do I need?
- What’s my current income and expenditure?
- Could I afford the loan?
- What impact will equity release have on the value of my estate?
- Am I considering my future plans and goals?
- Have I explored alternative options?
- Where can I find professional financial advice?
Thinking about these questions could help guide your thoughts if you’re about to consult an equity release broker or advisor.
This article’s a guide, not a substitute for professional advice.
Let's delve into each of the points to keep in mind step by step.
#1. Understanding Your Reasons for Considering Equity Release
Understanding your reasons for considering equity release is crucial in determining if it's the right financial decision for your unique circumstances.
A 2023 SunLife survey revealed that prospective borrowers often seek equity release to fund holidays and home improvements.3
Here’s the full list of responses to the SunLife survey, in order of popularity:
- 53%: holidays or travel
- 47%: home improvements or adaptations
- 27%: paying off a mortgage and other debts
- 27%: early retirement
- 17%: early inheritance
- 15%: family gifts
- 10%: supporting family (studies, house deposit etc.)
- 9%: something else
Your reasons may, of course, be different or consist of a number of factors.
What about your feelings?
Don’t forget to think about the emotional dimension attached to retirement planning.
If you’re extremely attached to the family home, that may sway you towards equity release, as you wouldn’t have to say goodbye to a lifetime of memories.
While emotions are often a factor, they should be considered alongside objective financial points.
Consider, for instance, whether moving to a smaller property, or a home in a more retirement-friendly location, may be a more suitable option for you in the long run.
If you’re property-rich but need income in later life, equity release could potentially be the solution—as could an alternative like downsizing or renting out a room.
Seek advice from an independent equity release advisor or broker if you’re considering equity release or any alternative solutions.4
#2. Considering How Much Equity You Need & for How Long
Considering how much equity you need and for how long will be a crucial step when you’re deciding whether an equity release loan could suit your purposes.
You can follow these steps to make an informed decision:
- Define your long-term financial goals: Outline your reasons for releasing equity, such as supplementing retirement income, home improvements, or paying off debts.
- Assess your future financial situation: Review your income, expenses, and savings to determine if additional funds are needed or if there are alternative ways to achieve your goals.
- Calculate the required amount: Consider potential future expenses or emergencies to estimate the money needed for your financial goals.
- Factor in loan duration: Determine the length of time you'll need the funds, considering factors like age and life expectancy.
Once you’ve worked out how much money you’ll need to fund your retirement, it’s time to calculate how much equity you may be able to access and weigh up whether you’d have enough to cover your projected expenses.
If you’d like an estimate of how much you could potentially borrow through an equity release loan, you could use our free equity release calculator.
#3. Assessing Your Income & Expenditure
Assessing your income and expenditure is very important when determining if equity release is right for you.
By doing so, you may even find that adjusting your budget could be a better solution.
Here’s how to obtain a clearer picture of your own books:
- List all your income sources (e.g., salaries, pensions, investments).
- Divide your expenses into two categories: essential and non-essential.
- Track your spending to understand habits and identify areas for change.
- Analyse your cash flow by subtracting all your expenses from income.
- Set realistic short-term and long-term financial goals.
- Create a budget reflecting your goals, income, and expenses.
- Review and revise your budget regularly.
Assessing your financial situation can help you make informed decisions about equity release or alternative solutions.
Keep in mind
Predicting future financial situations can be complex and uncertain, and professional advice should be sought.
#4. Determining Affordability
Determining affordability’s essential when considering equity release—or any financial decision.
Keep in mind, equity release comes with costs and may not always be the most economical borrowing method.
Additionally, because the loan’s only designed to be paid back when you die or move to long-term care, equity release schemes often come with Early Repayment Charges5, which can further reduce the value of your estate if you decide to repay the loan before the end of the term.
#5. Considering the Potential Impact on the Value of Your Estate
Considering the potential impact on the value of your estate is crucial when thinking about an equity release loan.
The potential effects include, but aren’t limited to:
- Reduced inheritance: Equity release reduces the equity in your property, which in turn decreases the value of your estate, so your beneficiaries may receive a smaller inheritance than they would have otherwise.
- Interest accumulation: The longer the loan’s outstanding, the more interest accumulates, further reducing the value of your estate.
- Property value changes: If the value of your property increases significantly, it may help offset the impact of the equity release, but if property prices decline, the impact on your estate could be more substantial.
#6. Thinking About Your Future Plans & Goals
Thinking about your future plans and goals may seem like an obvious step, but it’s one that can easily fall by the wayside when you’re worried about your retirement finances.
What are your expectations for your retirement?
Think about factors like:
- Retirement lifestyle: Envision your desired retirement and assess if equity release can support it.
- Healthcare needs: Evaluate if equity release can cover potential future healthcare costs and if you need to save the option for emergency funds at a later stage.
- Family support: Assess if you have family members you may need to support and if equity release can help with this.
- Inheritance: Consider the impact on your estate and communicate with your family.
#7. Exploring Potential Alternatives to Equity Release
Exploring potential alternatives to equity release is a very important step before deciding on equity release.
Consider options like downsizing to a smaller property, renting out a portion of your home, or using your savings or investments to meet financial goals.
Equity release may not be the right solution for everyone.
For example, it may affect your tax status and eligibility for state benefits6, result in a substantial amount of accumulated interest over time, and significantly reduce the value of your estate.
Seeking professional financial advice can help you evaluate these alternatives and make the best decision for your circumstances.
#8. Seeking Independent Financial Advice
Seeking independent financial advice is crucial when considering equity release or any major financial decision.
An independent financial advisor (IFA) registered with the Financial Conduct Authority can assess your personal situation, provide unbiased guidance, and recommend the most suitable financial products or solutions.
Their expertise ensures you make informed decisions that align with your financial goals and minimise potential risks.
The key takeaways from this article include eight points to think about if you’re weighing up equity release.
These are the factors to consider:
- Reasons for Equity Release: Identify why you need the funds—for home improvements, travel, debt payment, etc.
- Equity Amount & Loan Duration: Define your financial goals and future financial needs, and calculate your required funds and potential loan duration.
- Income & Expenditure Assessment: Review your income and spending habits, and consider if budget adjustments can meet your needs instead.
- Affordability: Evaluate your capacity to handle the costs of equity release, including potential Early Repayment Charges.
- Impact on Estate Value: Understand how equity release can reduce your estate value owing to decreased equity and interest accumulation.
- Future Plans & Goals: Consider whether equity release aligns with your retirement vision, potential healthcare costs, family support needs, and inheritance plans.
- Equity Release Alternatives: Explore other options like downsizing, renting out part of your home, or using savings/investments. Understand the potential risks of equity release, including the implications of long-term interest compounding and the impact on eligibility for certain benefits.
- Independent Financial Advice: Consult an unbiased independent financial advisor for informed decision-making.
How Does Equity Release Affect My Beneficiaries?
Can I Change My Mind About Equity Release After I Sign Up?
What Happens If I Move or Want to Sell My Property After Taking Out an Equity Release Plan?
How Long Does It Take to Set Up Equity Release?
How Does Equity Release Impact Inheritance Tax?
Depending on individual needs and circumstances, equity release can be a useful way for homeowners to access their property's value while maintaining their cherished home.
By understanding your reasons for considering equity release, evaluating the impact on your estate, assessing your income and expenditure, contemplating future plans, and seeking independent financial advice, you'll be well-equipped to make a well-informed decision.
The key lies in carefully analysing your individual circumstances and financial goals.
It's also crucial to weigh the pros and cons of equity release against other options like downsizing, retirement savings, or renting out part of your home.
Always consult with an independent financial advisor to understand your options and make an informed decision
So, take a moment to reflect, consult a professional, and ultimately ask yourself: Is equity release right for me?
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