For many retirees – as well as those considering their retirement plans – their home is likely to be their largest asset. In an environment of high inflation and low savings rates, money can be tight for pensioners, but misconceptions about equity release plans might prevent retirees from releasing the value tied up in their home. Research by Safe Home Income Plans (SHIP), the trade body for equity release providers, has found a number of myths that persist about equity release plans.
1 – 69% of UK consumers believe you risk losing your home. However, you can remain in your property for life as long as it remains your main residence. In cases in which a couple is involved, this rule will apply to the last surviving member of the couple.
2 – 67% of UK consumers believe you will not be able to leave an inheritance. In fact, when you die, your home will be sold and the money used to pay off the loan. Although an equity release plan will reduce the value of your estate, any money left over will go to your beneficiaries. Taking out an equity release plan could also help by reducing inheritance tax liability.
3 – 52% of UK consumers believe you will not be able to move house. In practice, you have the right to move your equity release plan to another suitable property without suffering any financial penalty.
4 – 47% of UK consumers believe equity release plans are unsafe and unregulated. However, all members of SHIP have to abide by a rigorous complaints procedure to satisfy the Financial Services Authority.
5 – 43% of UK consumers believe your children will have to repay the loan themselves. In fact, you will never owe more than the value of your home and no debt is ever left to the estate. Importantly, SHIP providers also offer a no-negative-equity guarantee.
It is important not to confuse equity release plans with sale-and-rent-back arrangements, in which the house is sold – often at a discount – to a third party and then rented back to the vendor for a specified period. These arrangements tend to be an action of last resort, involving those in serious financial difficulties.
Equity release refers to Home reversion plans and Lifetime mortgages. To understand the features and risks ask for a personalised illustration.