Equity release demand in the UK increases

The demand for equity release in the UK has increased steadily

More home owners seeking advice about property wealth and what they can do to access it means that membership of the Equity Release Council has passed 300 for the first time.

Overall there has been a growth of 46% since the end of 2017, which the council says reflects the increasingly important role of equity release and property wealth, particularly when it comes to later life planning.

The rise in membership is coupled with steady market growth and over 78,000 new and existing customers have used housing wealth to meet diverse needs in the last year.

It also appears to be a market that regulates itself well as figures from the UK’s finance watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, indicates that today’s equity release market attracts the fewest complaints among home finance products.

The council has also seen a 38% increase in registered individuals, rising from 673 in December 2017 to now stand at over 900. Having expanded its remit in 2012 from a provider led body to be a representative voice for the whole sector, the council has seen significant growth in two key categories of adviser and solicitor firm membership with an annual increase of 47% and 46% respectively.

In the 12 months to the third quarter of 2018, more than 78,000 new and existing customers have used their housing wealth to help meet diverse social needs, while lending surpassed £1 billion for the first time in any single quarter.

As the later life lending market continues to grow, equity release customers can now choose from an unprecedented range of product options and flexibilities. The council and its members have backed efforts by industry and policymakers to improve consumers’ access to guidance on a rounded approach to later life financial planning, spanning pensions, savings, investments and property.

Chairman of the Equity Release Council, David Burrowes said more people than ever now see the logic in considering their property wealth alongside their other assets when they make financial plans for later life. The continuing growth of their membership means consumers can benefit from best practice in the advice and products available from a market buoyed by competition, choice and consumer confidence.

David said 2018 has seen equity release cement its place as a mainstream financial product and become a valuable tool in later life financial planning. Increased product flexibilities are giving older homeowners a wider range of options to suit varied circumstances, while staying true to the principle of consumer protection that has underpinned the market for nearly 30 years.

He said as demand continues to grow, it is paramount that they maintain this consumer focus while improving understanding of modern equity release. Members are also committed to exploring new avenues and innovations to help people safely access their property wealth in retirement to meet fundamental social needs.

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