There has been a double digit rise in the number of people releasing cash from their property through equity release, new figures have shown.
According to the Equity Release Council's spring 2019 market report, out today (April 2) demand for equity release continued to grow across all UK regions and lifetime mortgages in particular saw a rise of 25 per cent from 2017 to 2018.
Lifetime mortgages are now estimated to account for about a third of all mortgages taken out by homeowners from their mid-50s onward compared to less than a fifth ten years ago, according to the ERC, which based its analysis on FCA product sales data.
In the five year period from July 2012 to June 2017, London and southern regions showed the strongest growth in consumer demand for lifetime mortgages, with London experiencing a growth of 138 per cent and the south east seeing 143 per cent growth. Sales in the east of England showing were up the most, by 158 per cent.
The Midlands and Northern Ireland meanwhile, topped the one-year growth trend between 2016/17 and 2017/18, when product sales rose 26 per cent in the east Midlands and 21 per cent in Northern Ireland.
In its autumn market report 2018 the ERC reported new customer activity had almost doubled since the first half of 2016.
Product innovation continued to broaden the appeal of equity release and the range of options to those wishing to unlock cash from their property doubled to 221 in the space of the past year, according to the ERC.
Dave Harris, chief executive officer and equity release lender More 2 Life, said: "With lifetime mortgages experiencing a staggering 25 per cent annual increase in new loans last year, we are delighted to see that product innovation has been a key factor in this impressive growth.
"If the industry is to continue growing at this rate, it will be essential to listen to advisers about what their clients want and need from later life products."
Mr Harris said the sector should now invest in new technology to keep up and deliver the level of service that today's retirees expect, such as quick processes, expanded product offerings and user-friendly accessible solutions.
The ERC report showed jointly held plans continued to make up the majority of new plans in H2 2018. Across single plans, women accounted for a greater share of market activity than men, with more than double the number of single plans taken out by women than men in H2 2018.
Returning drawdown activity increased by 29 per cent year-on-year, broadly in line with the increase in new drawdown products agreed over the last two years.
This suggests that growth in drawdown activity was due to more individuals holding these products, rather than individuals taking more frequent drawdowns, according to the ERC.
David Burrowes, chairman of the Equity Release Council, said: "2018 saw equity release enter the mainstream of financial services as an increasingly popular way to meet important and diverse social needs in later life.