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FAQs

Can I change my equity release plan?

Yes, you can but this can be costly if you are still within the early repayment penalty charge period. Your financial adviser will be able to advise you on your financial goals and if, for example, you are wishing to seek a new plan at a lower interest rate a careful calculation will need to be done considering early repayment charges and the costs of setting up a new scheme, to ensure it is financially advantageous to you.

If you are wishing to move house, then Equity Release Council approved plans allow you to do so, transferring the equity release plan to your new property.

An important factor when discussing equity release with your financial adviser is to cover possible choices that you may wish to consider in the future: for example, retiring to your dream cottage by the sea or perhaps the property will be too big to manage when there is only one of you remaining.

Can I pay off my equity release loan?

All equity release products will have an early redemption penalty clause. It is important to discuss your longer-term financial goals with your financial adviser so that they can source a suitable product to align with your goals.  However, the good news is that all Equity Release Council approved products provide for penalty free repayments.

Can I get an equity release on my buy to let property?

Some lenders do offer buy to let equity release products.  There will be specific requirements as to what type and duration of tenancies the lender will accept.  Please enquire with your financial adviser as to availability and suitability. 

Why do I need a solicitor to act for me?

The lenders have stringent lending criteria that must be met for them to lend on your property.  An expert equity release solicitor will, through their experience, be aware of the requirements and will identify all documents required at the outset of the transaction to enable you to fulfil the requirements.  Additionally, the Equity Release Council provides safeguards for the borrower which include ensuring that legal advice has been provided, your identity confirmed and that you have the capacity to enter the contract of your own free will.

We make the process as streamlined and stress free as possible by identifying all requirements as soon as possible and liaise with the lender’s solicitors at the earliest opportunity regarding any more unusual circumstances, so that we can agree how to resolve any anticipated issues. 

Why is equity release different to a normal mortgage?

Equity release is intended to be a lifetime product where the value of the debt increases over the term of the loan.  Therefore, the checks and measures that lenders have are different because the lender will need to be repaid at the end of the term and wish to anticipate any potential issues with marketing the property.  A normal residential mortgage is shorter term, with the debt decreasing over the term of the mortgage so the lender, whilst of course wishing to ensure that they have good security over the loan has different requirements.

Why should I use a specialist equity release solicitor?

Equity Release can be complex and varied, but the full complexities required to fulfil Lender requirements are not always apparent at the application stage (and usual time to instruct solicitors). 

An experienced specialist equity release solicitor will anticipate and understand Lender requirements and the evidence required to satisfy them.  Where evidence is not available, we have the experience to dynamically problem solve and good working relationships with other parties in the supply chain to work as a collaborative team. 

Equity Release offers are of short duration: 42 days on average from offer to completion, so there is no time to be lost in protracted negotiations/communications endeavouring to identify how to resolve the complexity.  Once an offer lapses there is a risk of interest rates and loan to value ratio’s changing such that the equity release is no longer a viable solution to your financial goal.

Time is very much of the essence.  A specialist expert solicitor will achieve completion quicker and smoother by intricately understanding requirements gained through their skills, knowledge and experience.

I have a leasehold property; can I get an equity release?

Subject to the terms of the lease being acceptable to your proposed lender, yes you can.

All service charges etc. will need to be paid up to date and the terms of your lease complied with.  Occasionally ground rent charges may exceed threshold levels which means that a deed of variation will need to be agreed with the freeholder to be acceptable to your equity release lender.  In such circumstances these transactions can take considerably longer (many months). 

We will ensure your lease is reviewed at the outset of the transaction to identify these types of issues.  We understand how disappointing and stressful it can be to expect a transaction to complete within weeks and it then takes months.  We will always provide our advice in a timely and honest manner.

I inherited my home. Can I still obtain equity release?

Subject to the property itself being accepted as suitable for equity release yes you can, however the transaction is likely to be more complex and therefore will probably take considerably longer than a standard transaction.  The exact time estimate varies depending on the circumstances.

We will advise you at the outset what needs to be done to make the title acceptable to your proposed lender, the documentation we require from you and the resultant impact on time to completion and any additional costs.

Should I tell my family about my equity release?

Whilst there may be good reasons that you do not wish to do so, we highly recommend doing so to avoid family conflict in the future.

What are the advantages of an equity release?

  • Access to tax free cash to use how you wish, after payment of existing charges.
  • Facilitates achieving your financial/ retirement goals.
  • Can help to reduce your estate for the purposes of inheritance tax planning (please ensure you take expert financial advice as this is a complex area).
  • Your estate will never be left owing money.  All Equity Release Council products have a no negative equity guarantee (provided the terms and conditions have been adhered to).
  • Flexible to your financial needs for example, drawdown products provide the ability to access additional cash when necessary (subject to lenders terms and conditions being met).
  • Ability to make penalty free payments.

Please note that these FAQs are up to date as of June 2023, and are intended as a general information guide.  They are not intended as financial or legal advice and it is crucial to consult with an independent expert equity release financial adviser and engage specialist expert equity release solicitors.

What are the disadvantages of an equity release?
  • The equity in your home is reduced meaning the asset value is reduced to your estate i.e., less inheritance (which can also be an advantage – see below).
  • Compound interest (where no voluntary payments are made) can entirely extinguish the remaining equity in your property.
  • Any means tested benefits may be affected. You should discuss this with your financial adviser prior to proceeding with an equity release.
  • Some restrictions on moving home.
  • Ongoing obligation to keep your lender informed of certain events e.g., if you want to adapt your home, long trips away from home, if you wish to move someone into your home etc.
Why do I have to see a solicitor face to face when I don’t for a residential mortgage?

The Equity Release Council have stringent guidelines for the protection of borrowers and the face-to-face meeting is one such mandatory guideline. The purpose of the meeting is to guard against the risk of identity theft, fraudulent activity, duress and to ensure that the borrowers fully understand the nature of the equity release transaction that they are entering.

Our solicitors are friendly, experienced and will put you at ease during the meeting.

I am power of attorney to my parents; can I take out equity release on their home?

There are restrictions over when a power of attorney can be used and the intended use of those funds.  We recommend discussing the proposed equity release with your financial adviser in the first instance to understand the financial goals and they will be able to advise if equity release is suitable.

If the equity release does proceed, specific additional documentation and evidence will be required which we will identify at the outset of the transaction.

Can I get an equity release on my holiday home?

Provided your property is within the UK some lenders do have holiday home equity release products.  There will be specific requirements that the lender has relating to the loan. Please enquire with your financial adviser as to availability and suitability.  Once your financial adviser has identified a suitable product, we would be happy to discuss the lender’s legal requirements.

How long does an equity release take?

Each transaction will depend on the complexity of your property title, and the applicants.  Where the applicants are on the property title and there is a standard residential mortgage with a high street lender, the transaction is relatively swift from receipt of the offer to completion in around 3 weeks often quicker if you can work electronically and have availability for the appointment. The longest transactions can take up to a year: for example, where properties are in trust and the trust needs to be unwound or if the property is not in the applicant’s name.

Can I rent my house if I have an equity release loan on it?

No, you cannot, unless you have a buy to let equity release.  The terms and conditions are for the applicants’ sole use as their home (save for BTL/holiday home specific equity release products). 

You can, with the lender’s prior agreement have permanent ‘occupiers’ but the lender will usually require the intended occupier to sign an occupier waiver deed.

Do you pay monthly interest on an equity release loan?

There are many different products on the market and, depending on your circumstances and wishes your financial adviser will source the most suitable product for your needs.  Some products do provide for monthly interest payments, which have the advantage of ensuring that the original loan amount does not increase but will impact on your monthly budgeting.  Other products (and more commonly) provide for no interest to be paid and the loan is repaid when the last borrower either leaves their home to enter residential care or dies.

Can I move house?

Yes, you can. All Equity Release Council approved plans provide for you to be able to move home, transferring the equity release charge to your new home.  There are lender restrictions over which type of properties are acceptable, and you may be required to repay some of the capital if your new home is of lower value than your existing home.

We will fully advise regarding your ability to move house once we have your lender’s offer.

My spouse is not on the title of our property; can we still get equity release?

Most lenders will require your spouse to transfer onto the title.  We can do this as part of the equity release transaction.

Alternatively, your spouse may be treated as an occupier of the property, and they will be required to sign a waiver over their rights of occupancy.  There are disadvantages to this, for example, if you were to pre-decease your spouse, they would not have a right to remain in the home thereafter. 

We will advise you of your lender requirements at the outset.

Do I still own my home once I have an equity release loan?

Yes, with a lifetime mortgage you remain the registered property owners. If you have a home reversion plan, then you have sold some or all your property to the lender.

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