You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience.

How much does equity release cost?

Simon Stanney

Last updated 12th December 2023 by Scott Robertson

7 min read

The costs of equity release include interest rates and initial charges. The exact rates and costs will vary depending on your circumstances, such as how long your plan runs for and what type of plan you choose.

If you're considering equity release, it is important to find out what costs are associated with it, just as you would for a regular mortgage.

This article will help you understand these costs and how they can vary, including initial charges, how interest works for equity release, and how the different costs can be paid.

Please note, points about interest relate specifically to lifetime mortgages, not home reversion plans.

On this page

What are the initial charges involved with equity release?

The initial charges of equity release depend on which provider you go with and which product you select, but typically they will include fees for advice and application fees (including legal costs).

Usually, you can expect to pay for advice from a financial adviser who will carry out research into the options available and recommend the most suitable plan for you.

The application fee, also known as arrangement fee, is similar to when you take out a regular mortgage. It typically covers the set up and the provider's legal costs when arranging your equity release plan.

Good to know: The SunLife Equity Release Service gives free initial equity release advice, with no obligation. And if you go on to apply for a SunLife Sunrise Lifetime mortgage, there are no advice fees at all. (This may not be the case if you choose a different provider.)

Equity release calculator icon.

Use our 60 second equity release calculator

Use our 60 second equity release calculator

Use our equity release calculator

Use our 60 second
equity release calculator

Release tax-free cash from your home

Interest on equity release

How much your interest amounts to at the end of your lifetime mortgage will depend on how long it runs for (remember, it'll come to an end when you sell your home, when you pass away or move into permanent care) and which type of plan and interest rate you choose.

For example, with a roll-up lifetime mortgage (which gives you your tax-free cash in one lump sum), the interest on your loan is 'rolled up' and it 'compounds' each month or every year depending on the plan you choose.

This means that if you are not making any regular repayments, the amount you owe to your lifetime mortgage provider grows every year.

Read more on the different types of lifetime mortgages.

'Rolled-up/compound interest' for equity release explained

Here's a simple explanation of how rolled-up/compound interest works for a roll-up lifetime mortgage with no regular repayments:

  • At the end of the first month or first year (depending on your plan), the amount of interest charged is added to the original loan
  • The following month or year, the interest will be 'compounded' – meaning it's calculated based on the sum of the original loan, plus the interest charged during the first month or year
  • This process continues in the same way for every month or year that follows
  • So, even though the interest rate can stay the same, the amount of interest added to what you owe your provider will grow over time.

Take a look at our article on compound interest for more information.

Do I pay tax on equity release?

No, you do not have to pay tax on equity release. When you take out an equity release scheme, you receive a tax-free sum. This is because it is a loan, rather than a form of income.

The money is yours to do with as you like. Depending on what you do with the money, there may be tax implications.

For example, if you decide to give your family an advance on their inheritance, but die within seven years, Inheritance Tax may be payable. Any interest accrued by the money that you gain will also be taxable.

Equity release may also affect your current and future eligibility for state benefits so make sure you ask all the necessary questions when you speak to a financial adviser.

Take a look at our guide on the tax implications of equity release to learn more.

What is the interest rate on equity release?

The actual rate you secure when taking out an equity release plan will depend on your individual circumstances, requirements and the product selected. It's important to speak to an independent advisor who can help you find the best interest rates for your situation.

How much interest do you pay on equity release?

To give you an indication of how much different rates could affect the amount you owe, the tables below show how much you might owe over a period of five, 10 and 15 years with example compound interest rates of 4%, 5% and 6%.

Based on an annually rolled up lifetime mortgage loan of £50,000 with a compound interest rate of 4%.

Year Loan Interest at 4% Total owed
1 £50,000 £2,000 £52,000
2 £52,000 £2,080 £54,080
3 £54,080 £2,163 £56,243
4 £56,243 £2,250 £58,493
5 £58,493 £2,340 £60,833
10 £71,166 £2,847 £74,013
15 £89,830 £3,593 £93,423

Based on an annually rolled up lifetime mortgage loan of £50,000 with a compound interest rate of 5%.

Year Loan Interest at 5% Total owed
1 £50,000 £2,500 £52,500
2 £52,500 £2,625 £55,125
3 £55,125 £2,756 £57,881
4 £57,881 £2,894 £60,775
5 £60,775 £3,039 £63,814
10 £77,640 £3,882 £81,522
15 £99,091 £4,955 £104,046

Based on an annually rolled up lifetime mortgage loan of £50,000 with a compound interest rate of 6%.

Year Loan Interest at 6% Total owed
1 £50,000 £3,000 £53,000
2 £53,000 £3,180 £56,180
3 £56,180 £3,371 £59,551
4 £59,551 £3,573 £63,124
5 £63,124 £3,787 £66,911
10 £84,475 £5,069 £89,544
15 £113,048 £6,783 £119,831

Please bear in mind these figures are presented as examples only. Your individual circumstances, the product selected and your lifespan will affect the amount you pay.

Can you pay the interest on equity release?

There are equity release products that come with the option of making regular payments to help reduce the total cost of borrowing.

Even if you’re only able to make small repayments, it’ll help reduce the amount of interest you pay over the lifetime of your loan.

This varies from lender to lender and should be considered when talking to an adviser.

With a lifetime mortgage where you can make monthly payments, the amount you can repay might be based on your income.

Good to know: The SunLife Sunrise lifetime mortgage allows you to repay up to 10% of the original loan amount each year with no early repayment charges.

Can you pay back equity release early?

This will depend on your equity release provider. Some providers may allow you to pay back the money early, but you may face early repayment fees.

Early repayment fees can be quite expensive so you'll need to get advice from your provider and independent financial advice before making any decisions.

Some new plans may offer fixed-term early repayment charges, so it's important to research and find the best plan for you. Whether or not you wish to repay your equity release plan early will depend on your financial situation.

Your adviser will be able to help you find a plan that meets the criteria you need.

Good to know: The SunLife Sunrise lifetime mortgage has fixed early repayment charges. This means you’ll know exactly what it would cost to repay early before you decide to release equity.

Do I need to pay for a surveyor's valuation?

When you first buy your home, a lender's valuation survey may need to be conducted in order to get a mortgage.

This also applies when taking out equity release.

A surveyor may need to check the property and report their findings to the lender you decide to go with.

Whenever working with a surveyor, always make sure they are RICS registered( opens in a new tab).

Solicitors fee

If you decide to go ahead with releasing equity, you'll need to appoint a solicitor to take care of all the legal work on your behalf.

Your solicitor will work with you to make sure everything is in order up until your money is released.

When do you pay the fees?

Fee When it's due
Financial advisor If applicable, these can be paid upfront, out of the loan or added to the loan
Provider's administration or application fees If applicable, this is usually paid when your plan begins, and you receive your money
Interest rates With a lifetime mortgage, these are usually paid when you sell your home, pass away or move into permanent care. Some providers allow you to make regular or one-off repayments
Surveyor If applicable, this is usually paid with the application
Solicitors fee This is typically paid when you receive your money on completion

How much does equity release cost in total?

Depending on the type of plan being arranged, all of the charges involved can add up to between £1,500 and £3,000 (source: Money Saving Expert(website opens in a new tab)).

The costs can vary so much because of the different factors that make up the overall cost.

For example, equity release lenders charge different application fees. Some may not charge for this at all and others may structure their plans so that they offer cash-back that will cover the cost of these fees for you.

It's important to thoroughly research the market and get the correct advice so you can decide what equity release plan is right for you.

Next steps

If you're considering releasing equity, then it's important to consider the pros and cons and get expert advice before making any final decisions. You may even want to look into alternatives to equity release.

It's worth noting that if you have any outstanding mortgage balance on your home, you'll need to use the equity you release to pay this off. You can spend the remaining cash as you like, for example to help your family or boost your retirement income.

A financial adviser can talk you through the details – including the costs of equity release – so you can decide whether it's the right option for you.

If you think releasing equity could be right for you, try SunLife’s free equity release calculator for an idea of how much you could release.

Want to know more about equity release?

Visit our dedicated equity release hub

The thoughts and opinions expressed in the page are those of the authors, intended to be informative, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SunLife. See our Terms of Use for more info.