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One in five homeowners open to equity release

Written by: Owain Thomas
One in five homeowners would consider using equity release to unlock cash secured in their homes, according to research from Legal and General.

The lender found that 18% of 2,500 consumers surveyed would consider accessing their housing wealth via a lifetime mortgage in the future, while 3% said they had considered doing so in the past.

A further 3% said they had already used equity release.

Based on Office for National Statistics homeownership figures, this suggests around 2.55 million homeowners would consider using equity release in the future with a combined 900,000 having already accessed the product or considered it.

Last year was the first time the equity release sector has broken the £3bn barrier and there are predictions it could reach £5bn by 2020.

Available wealth growing

Earlier this week Retirement Advantage noted that the potential wealth available to over-55s in the UK via equity release had soared by £10bn over the past year.

Using data on UK property owned by over-55s and Nationwide house price figures, it said this represented an increase of 2.6% over the past year. This compared to 1% growth in 2016.

However, it added that a slowdown in house prices in Q4 2017 meant the total value of the equity release market had fallen by £55m (0.01%) compared with Q3 2017.

Legal and General’s report also suggested the equity release sector contributed around £7bn to the UK economy.

It estimated that for every £1 of equity released via a lifetime mortgage or other equity release product, £2.34 was generated for the UK economy.

Breaking down the direct economic impact industry by industry, L&G said manufacturing benefited the most at about £1.34bn.

It also estimated the construction sector saw a £349m injection – the equivalent annual salaries of 14,000 construction workers or 11,400 electricians, while the health and social work sector was boosted by £203m, approximately equivalent to 7,500 nurses, 3,200 doctors or 9,600 community workers.

Key part of retirement planning

Legal & General retirement retail chief executive officer, Chris Knight, said: “With longevity increasing and awareness about lifetime mortgages growing, the role of equity release and its contribution to the national economy is set to grow further.

“Last year saw the sector surpass £3bn and a £5bn plus market is a strong possibility by 2020. But there is an estimated £1.5trn of property wealth in hands of Britain’s over-55s, so there is the potential for retirees and their housing equity to play a much bigger role in boosting UK GDP in years to come,” he added.

Retirement Advantage head of product and marketing, Alice Watson, noted that the growth in house prices over the last year was further evidence of the enormous potential property value had for planning retirement.

“Concerns are growing that people are finding it difficult to save enough for the retirement they want, not helped by the sluggish wage growth we have seen over the last decade,” she said.

“There is an urgent need for property to become part of the retirement equation – and these figures demonstrate the impact it could have. For many, their property is the most valuable asset they own and typically worth far more than their savings.

“We saw a record £3bn taken out in UK equity release last year, but even this is a drop in the ocean compared to how much could potentially be drawn on by over-55s. With such a vast store of wealth in our bricks and mortar, equity release could grow even further in the coming months and years,” she added.

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