Releasing equity from your home is a big financial decision. Talking things over with friends and family helps, but independent equity release advisers are the people who can best assess your options. Here are 9 questions to ask yours before opting for equity release.
1. How much will I have to pay?
Finding out how much equity release could cost up front helps avoid any nasty surprises later, and means you can compare rates for different equity release advisers. They should tell you about any set-up costs, arrangement fees and legal fees involved – as well as their own fees – if you decide to take out an equity release plan.
2. Are you a member of the Equity Release Council?
The Equity Release Council provides guidelines for advisers, designed to protect customers like you. The Council only accepts fully qualified equity release advisers, so membership means you’re getting advice you can trust.
Because the equity release providers you’ll be able to pick from through SunLife’s Over 55 Equity Release service are Council members, you’ll also get a ‘no negative equity guarantee’ with any lifetime mortgage, meaning you’ll never owe more than the value of your home.
3. Are the Equity Release providers you work with regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority?
Whatever equity release myths you may have heard in the past, all equity release schemes are now fully regulated and supervised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – providing protection and peace of mind for equity release customers since 2004.
4. Are you an independent equity release adviser?
Independent Equity Release advisers, such as Age Partnership, are impartial, with the whole market to choose from. This is just what you want when seeking the right advice about a big financial decision like equity release.
5. What are the potential pitfalls of equity release?
Qualified equity release advisers will be able to clearly explain not just the advantages, but also the potential pitfalls of an equity release plan – like the potential impact on your entitlement to state benefits, or how equity release will reduce the value of your estate.
6. Can you advise on all types of equity release?
There are two main kinds of equity release plan – lifetime mortgages and home reversion plans. Equity release products are evolving and innovating all the time, so you want an equity release adviser who knows their stuff and can advise you on all your options.
7. What does your advice process look like?
You want to discuss all your options and feel no obligation to proceed. Based on a (usually free) initial consultation, good equity release advisers will come back to you with their findings and personalised recommendations – helping you make a fully informed decision.
8. What if equity release isn’t for me?
FCA-regulated equity release advisers are trained to discuss every option with you – that includes not going with equity release if they don’t feel it’s the right way to go. Be sure to discuss alternatives with your adviser, which may mean delaying equity release for a while until it works better for your circumstances.
9. What makes you the right equity release adviser for me?
You want an adviser with expert knowledge and experience of dealing with people in your situation. You need confidence they’re working with your best interests in mind and will be on hand to offer helpful advice at every step of your equity release journey.
At SunLife, we specialise in helping people over 50 – and we’ve learned to cut the fluff and jargon and just focus on what works best for our customers.
When you call the SunLife Over 55 Equity Release service, we will talk you through an eligibility check to see if equity release might be right for you.
If this seems to be the case, we will pass you over to equity release advisers who work for our chosen partner, Age Partnership.
The equity release advisers you’ll speak to have specialist experience dealing with people similar to you – and can provide personal, impartial advice tailored to meet your specific needs.