The majority of financial advisers believe that equity release will be regarded as a mainstream part of housing market finance within the next decade.
In a recent report published by LV = advisers said the most common reason their clients took out equity release was to supplement their retirement income (63%), provide financial support for loved ones (32%), home improvements (26%) and pay-off debt (25%).
In 2018, LV= saw a 77% rise in sales and the overall equity release market was worth £3.9bn.
Despite the rise in people releasing equity from their homes, the report identified some barriers to advising on equity release.
More than two-thirds of advisers (70%) encounter barriers when advising more clients to take out an equity release mortgage. The biggest barrier is deciding whether equity release is suited to their clients’ needs, followed by having to explain the complexity of the product.
Misconceptions over equity release
Some consumers also misunderstand equity release. Nearly half of advisers (48%) had clients who think they will end up owing more than their home is worth, and a similar number (46%) say clients are often worried that equity release will leave them unable to pass their house on to their family.
More than half (55%) are worried about how equity release will impact the future ownership of their home, while one in three (32%) are concerned that it will lead to them taking on more debt.
Andrew Gilbert, director of proposition, savings & retirement at LV=, said: “Equity release is increasingly being seen as a mainstream option in retirement – and rightly so. The government last year backed a Select Committee recommendation that the new Money and Pensions Service sign-posted retirees to consider home finance options including equity release as part of a broader retirement planning strategy.
“I believe that it’s our job to equip advisers with the knowledge and products they need to provide their clients with the right choices to support their retirement.
“With more clients looking to use equity release products for inheritance tax management, to help their families with a deposit or to simply top up their pension income, there is undoubtedly a requirement for more equity release advisers.”
“Our findings highlighted that only a quarter (25%) of advisers felt most informed about equity release – this is compared against 91% for pensions and 74% for annuities.
“The Equity Release Council also plays an important role, providing a wealth of online materials including the Adviser Guide to Equity Release. The resources are out there for advisers who want to make the most of this increasingly mainstream retirement planning option.”
Dotty Lewis at City Finance Brokers believes more specialist equity release advisers are needed: “With more clients looking to use equity release products for inheritance tax management, to help their families with a deposit or to simply top up their pension income, there is undoubtedly a requirement for more equity release advisers.
“Unless a broker is regularly advising on a decent number of equity release cases, it is difficult to maintain competency and up-to-date product knowledge and we believe qualifications should be expanded to include more tax, welfare and pension knowledge as lifetime mortgages can significantly affect these areas of a client’s financial life.”