Equity Release 

Age Partnership triples non-equity release business

Age Partnership triples non-equity release business

Retirement specialist Age Partnership has tripled its residential and buy-to-let mortgage business after adopting a criteria searching system.

Most commonly known for its equity release expertise, Age Partnership said it dramatically boosted its standard mortgage business by using Knowledge Bank, which allows brokers to search lenders’ mortgage criteria.

Anthony Barratt, mortgage desk manager at Age Partnership, said the service has allowed the company to deal with clients’ cases in a more time-efficient manner.

He said: "We have seen the amount of business we are writing more than treble, which is an amazing result."

Several lenders have either scrapped or increased the age limits on mortgages in an effort to serve older clients in recent months.

Launched in September 2017, Knowledge Bank enables intermediaries to search lenders' mortgage criteria.

It contains the criteria for more than 150 lenders and multiple search criteria can be entered at one time.

Knowledge Bank contains more than 70,000 criteria across eight different lending types, including residential, buy to let, equity release, self-build, second charges, bridging, commercial and overseas mortgages. It also provides a clear audit trail.

Nicola Firth, chief executive of Knowledge Bank, said: "We now have more than 70,000 individual criteria being kept up to date by more than 150 leading lenders across residential, buy to let, equity release, self-build, second charges and overseas mortgages."

While the equity release market has been resurgent in recent years, mortgage brokers are facing higher lending rates in the lifetime mortgage market and increased options in the retirement interest-only market owing to a change in regulations.

More than half of lenders in the lifetime mortgage market hikes their interest rates over the past quarter, with the average lifetime equity release rate reaching 5.1 per cent in November, compared with 5.03 per cent in July.

Meanwhile, the FCA's move in March to change regulations so that retirement interest-only mortgages are treated under standard mortgage rules means they no longer need to satisfy equity release requirements.

Steve Paterson, director of Teesside Money, said the change in regulations can only be a good thing for consumers, particularly those who have become "interest-only prisoners."

The equity release market is facing increased scrutiny from the regulator following a period of growth that has seen record lending figures and increasingly younger borrowers.

In the third quarter of 2018, more than £1bn was unlocked by property owners, the Equity Release Council stated, a near 25 per cent increase year-on-year.

This has caught the attention of the FCA.

Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the FCA, saod: "FCA data show sales growing both in number and value, and as a proportion of total mortgage sales.

“While these sales have, and continue to be, concentrated around older borrowers (aged about 70), we are also seeing a gradual upwards trend in the younger 56 to 60 group, who now represent 7 per cent of all lifetime mortgage sales.

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