Step Change Equity Release And Lifetime Mortgage Review in 2024

Do You Need to Unlock Equity From Your Property? Learn About StepChange’s Equity Release Advice, Its Pros and Cons and Why You Should Consider It.
  • Last Updated: 01 Feb 2024
  • Fact Checked
  • Our team recently fact checked this article for accuracy. However, things do change, so please do your own research.

Contributors:

Francis Hui

Key Takeaways

  • Step Change equity release in the UK is a financial product that allows homeowners over the age of 55 to access the equity in their home as a lump sum or regular income.
  • The process involves having your home valued, receiving a tax-free cash lump sum in return and repaying it when the property is sold, typically when you pass away or move into long-term care.
  • Costs involved can include arrangement fees, valuation fees, legal fees, and interest charges which accumulate over the loan period.
  • Advantages include access to a tax-free cash lump sum, no monthly repayments, and the ability to stay in your home, while disadvantages may include reducing your estate value and affecting your eligibility for certain benefits.
  • You can apply if you are over 65, as long as you own a property in the UK and it meets the lender's criteria.

If you are retired or nearing 55, you could be in a position where you need more capital to see you through your retirement years. You can access this by receiving equity release advice from StepChange

Having a wide variety of plans to compare means you will more easily be able to select an equity release product to suit your particular needs, but the fact that there are now many leading options to choose from can make the whole process daunting.

At Every Investor, our research team has spent countless hours reviewing equity release information and putting it all together in an easy-to-use format.

In This Article, You Will Discover:

    Our trusted team has carefully looked into the advice and services offered by StepChange so you can make an informed decision. 

    Therefore:

    NOTEEvery Investor is an impartial and unconnected third-party information provider via this website, and the details replicated in this commentary represent the opinions of Every Investor only and may not reflect the views or opinions of StepChange Debt Charity. This article must not be interpreted as advice, nor is it a solicitation to conduct transactions in any financial product provided by StepChange Debt Charity.

    What Is StepChange?

    StepChange Debt Charity is a UK-based charity organisation offering debt advisory services and equity release advice via it's subsidiary StepChange Financial Solutions. 1

    StepChange Debt Charity was previously known as the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS). 2

    StepChange's operations are funded by donations from various stakeholders, including banks, loan providers, and the government.3

    What Is Equity Release In The Uk?

    For individuals over 55, equity release is a financial option to draw value from their homes, translating it into cash, without the necessity of a property sale.

    It enables tapping into property wealth.

    Accessing equity release allows homeowners to leverage their property's value while still retaining ownership.

    The distinctiveness of equity release lies in its repayment term.

    The accumulated loan and interest are cleared at the house's eventual sale, often correlated with life-changing events for the homeowner.

    How Does Step Change Equity Release Work?

    It's a method of unlocking the value tied up in your home, turning it into a tax-free, lump-sum payment or a regular income.

    The process is straightforward but requires careful consideration.

    Firstly, your home's worth is assessed, then a portion of its value is released as cash, which amount depends on your age and property value.

    Importantly, you retain full ownership of your home and continue living there.

    The loan, plus interest, is repaid when you pass away or move into long-term care.

    No regular payments are required during your lifetime.

    Why Consider StepChange?

    You may consider StepChange for equity release advice if you have problem debts because the charity provides unbiased services, and it's advice is free.

    StepChange's equity release advice arm, StepChange Financial Solutions, is also an award-winning equity release advisor, having won Best Broker for Equity Release at the 2022 Mortgage Strategy awards.4

    StepChange also:

    • Shares knowledge of debt management at no cost.
    • Provides advice about other mortgages.
    • Seeks to encourage debt counselling solutions.
    • Actively works towards helping people gain control over their finances.

    What Services Does StepChange Offer?

    StepChange offers a wide selection of financial and debt management services, which include equity release and mortgage advice.

    These include, but are not limited to:

    • Debt management planning.
    • Bankruptcy advice.
    • Equity release advice.
    • Mortgage advice.
    • Debt arrangement schemes.
    • Minimal asset process.
    • Individual voluntary arrangements.
    • Debt relief orders.

    Does StepChange Offer Equity Release or Lifetime Mortgages?

    StepChange does not offer equity release directly, but the organisation is one of the independent equity release advisers operating in the UK.

    StepChange provides equity release advice through StepChange Financial Solutions, it's subsidiary that sources products from the whole market.5

    StepChange’s Equity Release Schemes Advice

    StepChange advises on equity release schemes including interest-only lifetime mortgages, lifetime mortgages, and home reversion plans that are independently sourced from the market.

    StepChange’s Equity Release Scheme Features Advice

    StepChange’s equity release scheme features advice includes information about the features you would usually find in an equity release plan.

    More details:

    Interest-Only Lifetime Mortgage

    The interest-only lifetime mortgage advice from StepChange includes mention of a possible fixed interest rate for the plan's duration.

    More features:

    • This product may allow for a fixed interest rate for the plan's duration. This means you are not vulnerable to interest rate fluctuations.
    • Depending on your option, you may be able to retain some of your property equity.
    • A pre-approved flexible borrowing facility is an option you can explore.
    • You can switch to a lifetime mortgage if you struggle to make the monthly interest repayments.

    Lifetime Mortgage

    A lifetime mortgage includes features such as the fact that the loan amount and interest are usually payable on the sale of your home and the fact that plans are customisable.6

    More features:

    • Interest and the loan balance are payable when the home is sold.
    • You can customise your plan and repayments based on your needs and lifestyle choices.
    • You get a no negative equity guarantee, which ensures you are never left in a situation where you owe more than your home is worth.
    • Drawdown options allow you to withdraw future funds as and when needed.

    Home Reversion Plan

    A home reversion plan will allow you to receive more funds the older you are.7

    More features:

    • You could receive anything between 35% to 60% of the full market value for the portion of the house that is sold.
    • You will stand to benefit from property value increases if you do not sell all your equity in one go.
    • By selling a fixed percentage of your home, you protect your inheritance.

    What is StepChange’s Equity Release Interest Rates Advice?

    StepChange’s equity release interest rates advice is limited, as the organisation would like to offer you products on a personalised basis. 

    In general, equity release interest rates vary from 5.20% to 6.30% (AER)* and are usually fixed for the plan's duration.

    *While we regularly review our rates, these may have changed since our last update.

    What Are StepChange’s Fees?

    StepChange does not charge fees for advisory services; however, you will need to pay fees for any equity release plan you arrange through the organisation's equity release partnership.

    Some of the applicable fees are:

    • Valuation fees
    • Legal fees
    • Application fees

    Equity release fees normally amount to between £1,500 and £3,000*.

    *While we regularly review our fee information, this may have changed since our last update.

    Does StepChange Have An Equity Release Calculator?

    Yes, StepChange has an equity release calculator. 

    This will help you estimate how much capital you can unlock from your property.

    The estimate is based on factors such as age, property value, and outstanding mortgage amount, if applicable. 

    If you want to use our simple equity release calculator for an approximation, you can try it to obtain the best deals.

    What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Using StepChange?

    The advantages of using StepChange include that it offers free, independent advice on equity release. The disadvantages of any equity release plan include the fact that you will reduce your inheritance by releasing equity.

    More information:

    StepChange Pros

    The pros of StepChange include that it's advisers are independent, and that it is an award-winning charity.

    More information:

    • StepChange offers free advice.
    • It's qualified advisors provide independent and impartial advice.
    • With years of experience in the equity release industry, it is a reputable service provider that you can trust.
    • It is an award-winning entity and won “Best Broker for Equity Release” at the 2022 Mortgage Strategy Awards.

    StepChange Cons

    The cons of Step Change are the same as the cons of taking out equity release using any advisor i.e., your eligibility for means-tested benefits could be affected by equity release, and you could face early repayment charges should you settle your loan.

    More information:

    • Equity release can reduce the value of the inheritance you leave behind.
    • You could face early repayment charges if you settle your mortgage early.
    • Your home could be repossessed if you do not make your monthly repayments on an interest-only mortgage.
    • Equity release could affect your eligibility for means-tested benefits. 

    How Did We Review StepChange?

    We reviewed StepChange by sifting through all the relevant information about the organisation, selecting the most pertinent facts, and compiling it all into this easy-to-read review.

    NOTE: This article is an unaffiliated, independent, third-party, review of StepChange.

    StepChange Reviews

    StepChange reviews have been a mix of both good and bad online. 

    Some have applauded StepChange for helping them clear or better manage their debt.

    Others have claimed that the service has not been as good as it could have been.

    StepChange Complaints

    If you want to complain about StepChange, you can do so in several ways, such as by emailing the organisation.

    You can use the following channels to complain:

    • Via email - Send an email to customerrelations@stepchange.org
    • Phone - 0800 138 1111
    • In writing - Address a letter to:
      StepChange Debt Charity, 123, Albion Street, Leeds, LS2 8ER.

    Once your complaint has been received, you will receive an acknowledgment within five working days.

    A final response to your complaint will follow within four weeks from receipt thereof.

    Step Change FCA Details

    Trading Names: 

    Step Change is currently trading as:

    • StepChange Voluntary Arrangements
    • Foundation for Credit Counselling
    • StepChange
    • StepChange Debt Charity
    • StepChange Debt Charity Scotland
    • StepChange Debt Remedy
    • StepChange Money Aware
    • StepChange NI
    • StepChange Northern Ireland
    • StepChange VA
    • StepChange Wales
    • www.stepchange.org

    FCA Permitted Services:

    • Insurance
    • Investment and other related services 

    Regulators: 

    • Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)8

    Registration Numbers

    • FCA Ref Number: 517674
    • Companies House Number: 06741879

    FCA and Companies House Link

    StepChange Contact Number and Address

    • +44 808 1686 719
    • info@stepchange.org
    • StepChange Debt Charity, 123, Albion Street, Leeds, LS2 8ER.

    Common Questions

    What Is Step Change Equity Release in the UK?

    How Does Step Change Equity Release Work?

    What Are the Costs Involved in Step Change Equity Release?

    What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Step Change Equity Release?

    Can I Apply for a Step Change Equity Release If I'm over 65?

    Is StepChange a Member of the Equity Release Council?

    Who Owns StepChange?

    Looking For a Job at StepChange?

    Does StepChange Offer Equity Release?

    Is StepChange Equity Release Safe?

    In Conclusion

    StepChange Financial Solutions is an option worth pursuing if you are looking to gain better control of your finances with equity release.

    It is a regulated equity release advisor, which means your interests will be in safe hands. 

    You can explore StepChange’s equity release advice to see if it could be the right solution for you, or you may want to discuss your options with your financial advisor.

    The features mentioned and the amounts raised, are subject to the lender’s criteria, terms and conditions. These may take into account the age, health and lifestyle factors in order to provide an enhanced amount. To understand the features and risks, ask for a personalised illustration.

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