Equity release is a product that comes with a somewhat chequered history. For some, the words ‘equity release’ may conjure up memories of accusations of mis-selling and negative equity. In the 1980s high interest rates and the roll-up of unpaid interest against the value of the property, along with lower home values combined to create a perfect storm.
However, the market as a whole has been revamped and the options available to borrowers have been expanded. The Equity Release Council (ERC) are the industry body for the UK equity release sector and they represent the providers, qualified financial advisers, solicitors and intermediaries. The ERC have taken steps to make the sector more transparent and to ensure that borrowers have access to the specialist financial and legal advice they require. This has meant that it has become a far more attractive prospect in recent times.
For many, the equity in their home is the only capital resource they have, or by far the largest and equity release may therefore be the only way to fund their living costs in their later years.
One of the responses of the providers in the equity release market, as it recovered, was to offer a ‘no negative equity guarantee’. This means that when the property is sold, if the balance of the sale proceeds is less than the total amount due to the lender, the lender guarantees that neither the borrower nor their personal representatives will have to repay the shortfall. This has resulted in equity release matters becoming more popular in recent times.
The equity release experts here at Birketts are all members of the ERC and also share the aims of the ERC in respect of promoting high standards of conduct and practice in the provision of advice on equity release which have consumer safeguards at its heart.
If equity release is an option that you are considering, our equity release experts are on hand to advise you fully on the legal meaning and effect of your product, including your rights and obligations, and ensure that you obtain advice on estate planning and wills, if appropriate.
To discuss whether equity release may be the right option for you, please contact a member of our Residential Property Team.
The content of this article is for general information only. It is not, and should not be taken as, legal advice. If you require any further information in relation to this article please contact the author in the first instance. Law covered as at October 2021.