Equity Release Council Indicates Elderly freeing up Cash to Bail Out Family

The Equity Release Council, the formal industry body for the equity release sector, has recently revealed that £424million was taken out in equity release products between January and June 2012. Such products include chiefly Lifetime Mortgages and Home Reversion Plans and are available only to over 55 year olds, indicating that the older generation is increasingly obligated to support their younger family members in these difficult economic times.

A record high of 32% of these applicants cited lending or giving money to their relations as their primary motivation, relative to the most popular reasons stated before the recession of renovating the home, foreign holidays or paying off long-standing debts.

A recent report from equity release firm Key Retirement Solutions condemned this as ‘staggering’, bearing in mind just 23% gave the same reason last year, and attributed part of the shift to the new tuition fee increase. With fees at £9,000 for some, it seems that the ‘Bank of Granny and Granddad’ is being stretched to ensure that grandchildren get the education they want.

An Equity Release Scheme effectively ‘releases’ funds tied up in the value of your home. The average value of home for such a scheme is £201,150 and usually around £50,000 is released. Unlike a conventional mortgage, this is not generally requiring of monthly payments. Interest is ‘rolled up’ and the full sum due is paid by the estate after the applicant passes away, or moves into full time care.

The majority of the current applicants are in the South West or South East of England and many have recently cited the reason for application as the deposit required to secure a mortgage on a home purchase. It is perhaps not a coincidence, therefore, that around £50,000 is also the average deposit required to secure a mortgage in today’s market (see our article here).

Dr Ros Altmann, the Director General of well known over 50s provider ‘Saga’, reportedly stated that the situation was being fuelled by grandparents living longer, and children waiting longer for their inheritance. She commented:

“The last thing you want as a grandparent is for your children and grandchildren to be thinking: “when is granny going to pop off so I can get my hands on her house?”.”

Debt Charity the Consumer Credit Counselling Service has warned against the older generation committing to equity release without thoroughly considering their own needs:

“While equity release to help children or grandchildren get on the property ladder or pay for their education can be gratifying for many, it can be a huge burden on others.

“There are a lot of costs associated with getting older and it is crucial that these are factored in to any decisions about equity release.”

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