Equity Release  

Equity release lending tops £800m in third quarter

Equity release lending tops £800m in third quarter

Equity release lending has soared past £800m in a single quarter for the first time as greater competition boosts growth in the market.

Figures from the Equity Release Council showed the over-55s withdrew a total of £824m of property wealth from their homes in the third quarter - a 44 per cent year-on-year increase.

The surge in lending has smashed the previous quarterly record of £701m set in the second quarter of 2017.

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Customer numbers were up 11 per cent on the second quarter to 17,982, almost 10,000 of whom were new borrowers.

The remainder were made up of 6,849 returning drawdown customers releasing housing wealth in instalments (up from 6,566 in the second quarter) and 1,138 further advance customers agreeing extensions to existing plans (up from 1,002 in the second quarter).

There was a 9 percentage-point increase in the proportion of new customers choosing lifetime mortgages (77 per cent) compared to lump sum lifetime mortgages or home reversion plans in the third quarter as providers offered a wider range of product options.

Drawdown products typically see customers releasing smaller amounts of equity to begin with, reducing the build-up of interest over the duration of the plan and enabling them to unlock further sums at a later date.

Nigel Waterson, chairman of the Equity Release Council, said: “Property is, for many people, their largest asset and has the potential to play an increasingly important role in the future of retirement funding.

"The combination of rigorous safeguards and flexible products in today’s market is one reason why housing wealth is now being used to support a wide range of financial goals. 

“These range from boosting pension income and supporting retirement lifestyles to funding home improvements and adaptations, consolidating debts and providing a living inheritance to younger generations.”

Alice Watson, head of marketing at Retirement Advantage Equity Release, said: “The continued increase in the popularity of equity release is further proof that people are adopting a holistic approach to retirement planning. 

“We know that for many over 55s their property wealth is greater than their pension savings, and equity release can help them boost income and have a more fulfilling retirement.

 “These figures also pay testament to the innovation the equity release market is currently witnessing. The Equity Release Council has cited the growing range of products on the market as a driver of recent growth. 

“Pioneering products, such as the buy-to-let range launched by Retirement Advantage in August, will continue to expand the potential pool of property wealth that can be tapped into.”

simon.allin@ft.com