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Homeowners turn to equity release to pay down debt

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Around one-third of those who release equity from their homes do so to pay off credit cards and loans, according to new research from equity release group Key.

While 35 per cent are paying off unsecured debts, a further 28 per cent of retired homeowners used property wealth to clear outstanding mortgages. This is up from 21 per cent in 2018 and the third highest level since Key started its Market Monitor in 2007.

More people are withdrawing money from their homes, with new lending rising to £839.58 million. This takes the value of the market in the first quarter of 2019 to £1.18 billion up from £1.03 billion in the first quarter of 2018. 

Northern Ireland, the West Midlands and Yorkshire & The Humber recorded the biggest increases in borrowing. 

Those using equity release took an average of £75,032 during the three months. Although over half are using the money to pay down of some kind, the most popular use of the money remains paying for home and garden improvements. Holidays and helping family are also popular options. 

Will Hale, CEO at Key, said: “Typically the equity release market has a quieter start to the year but the latest Q1 results suggest that we should see continued growth in 2019.  The current challenging economic environment has seen a move away from holidays and home improvements to people tackling pressing immediate issues such as to pay off debt.

“Nearing or entering retirement with an income that might be exceeded or matched by debt repayments can be hugely stressful and may mean people need to make fundamental changes to their plans such as working longer.  However, this will not solve everyone’s issues and is not even viable for some so looking into downsizing, equity release or other later life lending options might be the right answer.” 

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