Last updated 3rd June 2019
If you’re a homeowner aged 55 or over, equity release can be a practical way to unlock cash tied up in your home. And we’re here to put you in touch with an independent expert adviser to find out whether it’s the best option for you.
We’re always happy to help
You might be thinking about using equity release schemes to give yourself more financial freedom in retirement. That could mean paying off the mortgage once and for all, getting that extension you’ve always wanted, or just seeing your loved ones enjoy their inheritance while you’re still around.
But is equity release really the right option for you? You can find answers to some common questions below – and whenever you’re ready we can get you to an independent expert adviser to help you make a decision.
Q. Am I eligible for equity release?
A. You’ll need to meet certain conditions in order to qualify for equity release plans. If you meet the criteria below, then you could just be eligible.
- You’re 55 or over
- You’re a homeowner in the UK
- Your property is worth £70,000 or more
Use our FREE Eligibility Checker to find out if you could be eligible.
Q. Who is equity release suitable for?
A. Just to remind you, equity release is a way of releasing cash from your home – without having to downsize to a smaller, cheaper property.
So if you have money tied up in your home, and you’re looking for a way to fund a more comfortable retirement, equity release could be a way to boost your finances. It could help top up your pension or other income when you stop working – and you can use the money to maintain or enhance your lifestyle in later life.
If you have enough spare cash or other investments that will allow you to maintain your lifestyle in retirement, then equity release is less likely to be right for you.
Before making any final decisions, it’s important to speak to an independent expert adviser. They’ll talk you through the details and help you decide whether equity release is right for you.
Q. How do equity release schemes work?
A. Well, that depends on the type of equity release scheme. Here are the two main types:
- Lifetime mortgage – This involves taking out a loan on your home. You don’t have to make any monthly repayments
- Home reversion scheme – This involves selling some or all of your home in return for a cash sum, and you’ll live there rent-free
Both of these equity release schemes enable you to access tax-free cash without having to move house. And the money you release is repaid when your home is sold (that’s usually when you pass away or move into long-term care).
Learn more about how equity release schemes work.
Q. Will I still own my own home?
A. If you choose a lifetime mortgage, the answer is yes. You’ll simply borrow money against your home, and then the loan and interest will be repaid when your property is sold.
If you choose a home reversion plan, your equity release provider will own a part or all of your home. But you will own a lifetime lease, meaning you can live there rent-free for the rest of your life.
Q. What kind of protection is there for me?
A. The equity release market is fully regulated – and equity release providers are regulated and supervised by the Financial Conduct Authority. The SunLife Over 55 Equity Release Service is on hand to ensure you get advice you can trust.
Equity Release Council
The first thing to do is make sure you go with a reputable equity release provider, so you know you’re in safe hands. They’ll need to be a member of the Equity Release Council (ERC) – an industry trade body which sets minimum standards such as a no negative equity guarantee.
No negative equity guarantee
This ensures that you’ll never owe more than the value of your own property – even if the value of your home falls below the amount you owe. Your provider would simply cover the loss, so your family don’t have to.
Joint equity release plans
If you’re living with your partner, then you’ll take out a joint equity release plan – meaning that even if one of you dies or moves into long-term care, the other can still remain in your home. You won’t have to repay the loan until your property is sold.
Q. What are the alternatives to equity release schemes?
A. Even if you’re eligible for equity release schemes, they aren’t always the right option for everyone. Here are a few possible alternatives:
- If you’re happy to move, you could sell your home and downsize to a smaller, cheaper property – but don’t forget that you’ll have to pay stamp duty and other costs
- You could consider taking out an unsecured loan or mortgage – if you do, you’ll usually need to make repayments in your lifetime
- If you have savings or investments, you could use these to fund your retirement instead
Before going ahead with any of these options, it’s best to get independent expert advice.
Q. Where can I get expert advice?
A. You’re in luck – the SunLife Over 55 Equity Release Service can put you in touch with an independent expert adviser.
Plus, when you make and keep your appointment with your adviser, we’ll send you a FREE £25 gift card.
Taking out equity release is a big decision, so seeking advice from the experts is the right thing to do. You should also talk things through with your family – it’s important to keep them in the loop, as equity release will have an effect on the inheritance you leave behind.
Q. I’m ready to take the first step – what should I do?
A. The SunLife Over 55 Equity Release Service is ready and waiting to take your call, so get in touch with us today.