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Top tips for equity release

Your Money
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Your Money

10 hints and tips for older homeowners looking to free up wealth tied in property

1. Gather information

Equity release allows the over-55s to free up an income or lump sum from their property without selling up. It is quite complicated, so make sure you have downloaded and read our Guide To Equity Release before you begin.

2. Talk to an adviser

Talk to a qualified financial adviser, who will look at your whole financial situation and recommend the most suitable option for you. Ask about the options and costs, early repayment charges, taxation implications and whether your welfare benefits will be affected.

3. Consider the alternatives

Equity release is not the only possible means of raising finance, and it doesn’t suit everyone. Make sure you have researched all of the other possibilities available to you before committing.

4. Take your time

Many people who end up opting for equity release take up to two years to mull over the decision. So don’t feel that you have to rush into it. A good adviser should put you at your ease, exercise patience and not put any pressure on you.

5. Talk it through with your family

Using the equity in your home affects the amount you will be able to leave as an inheritance, so talk through all the issues before you take the next step.

6. Gather the right documents

When you apply, you will need to provide birth and marriage certificates; evidence of who you are and details of your home buildings insurance.

7. Expect a valuation

Usually, your lender will arrange for an independent valuer to assess what your home is worth – the valuation figure will not necessarily correspond with an estate agent’s estimate, which may be higher. Once your home is valued, your lender can establish the maximum loan available to you.

8. Use a solicitor

As with any mortgage application, solicitors are there to protect the interests of the borrower and the lender. All equity release providers who are members of the Equity Release Council (formerly known as Safe Home Income Plans, or SHIP) insist that you consult an independent solicitor to ensure that you fully understand the terms and conditions of the product that you choose. If you do not already have a legal adviser in mind, The National Solicitor’s Network can help you find one. It ensures that each firm affiliated with the network adheres to a specified standard of service and will provide you with the names of at least two firms in your area.

9. Be patient

It usually takes about 10 weeks for you to get your money once your application has been received. The money will be paid to you by the equity release company via your legal adviser.

The only responsibilities you then have, are to maintain your home buildings insurance, keep your house in good order and let the lender know if your circumstances change.

10. Spend the money

There are lots of ways of using the cash released from your home to make your retirement more comfortable, and you can use the money you receive for any purpose you like, from a new car to home improvements, or the holiday of a lifetime.

If you are feeling a little less frivolous, your financial adviser can tell you how lifetime mortgages can also be used as part of your general financial planning.