We often read comments in newspapers, or see reports on TV, that before taking equity release you should always consider your alternatives, as there maybe financial solutions that have not been previously considered. One of these which has created much debate recently is the possibility of downsizing.
This article, discusses the advantages of downsizing and how equity release schemes can still have an important role to play in such situations.
Equity Release versus Downsizing
The practice of downsizing, effectively means selling one property at a higher value than the one you wish to move into. Therefore, the equity generated from the price differential can be used to support you financially during retirement. This is usually the main reason for people deciding against taking equity release.
Downsizing is fine in principle, and it is one of the options Equity Release Supermarket advisers always discuss with clients. However, for economic and personal reasons, the idea of downsizing can be impractical.
Equity Release Case Study – How downsizing works in principle
Take for example Peter and Clare, both aged 73 and living in their semi-detached house worth £275,000 which they’ve owned for over 30 years. They are settled in the area, their family and friends are local to them and they feel comfortable and safe in their current surroundings.
Unfortunately, they still have a mortgage of £100,000 and the lender has informed them they will need to repay this by the time they reach the age of 75. Like many people in their situation, they do not have the money set aside to do so. Their family are in no position to help as they too are struggling to keep their own heads above water!
So what are their options?
They could sell up, pay off the mortgage and look for another lower valued property. After taking into consideration the costs of moving this would mean considering properties around £165,000. Unfortunately, there are no properties of this value nearby, as even smaller properties locally that would still cost them in the region of £200,000.
Consider a remortgage with another lender. This would involve switching their £100,000 mortgage to another lender. However, most high street banks & building societies will not allow borrowing beyond the age of 70, or even 75.
The only option it would seem is to have to move further away, to an area they would not feel comfortable with, and considering this would be their last ever move, it must be the right decision as happiness during retirement is key. This situation leads to anxiety and stress for the couple as their network of friends and family would no longer be around them and they would be moving to an unknown location which may turn out to be both undesirable and unpopular.
Therefore, only option 1 is feasible, but there is still the issue that the property would not be entirely suitable for their requirements moving forward.
Revised Case Study – The maths of upsizing
Let’s revisit option 1 again, as there is some good news for those that wish to downsize.
Equity release schemes can actually allow you to ‘up-size’ when moving house by using the equity release tax free cash to help fund the purchase of the new property. This would mean Peter & Clare still purchasing of a lower valued house. However, by using a new equity release plan in conjunction with the purchase, they can now attain property values of around £200,000+, which they needed to stay near to where they currently live.
Taking Peter & Clare’s example again. The couple are both aged 73. Using the Equity Release Supermarket calculator, they could borrow upto £78,000 on a property worth £200000, on a roll-up lifetime mortgage basis.
This would enable them to purchase the £200,000 property; by using £165,000 of their own equity, plus the difference coming from an equity release plan. In fact given the equity release calculation figures they could go even higher if they wished to do so, or even use some of the surplus to have a small emergency fund for the future which is missing at the moment.
Now Peter & Clare have come to terms with the downsizing, the couple can now consider fine tuning their equity release solutions.
In fact, they could consider a lender allowing interest payments - commonly known as an interest only lifetime mortgage provided by companies such as Stonehaven. These off-set the effect of the rolled up interest, but unlike their existing mortgage which comes to an end in two years’ time, a scheme such as Stonehaven’s Interest Select Plan would be open-ended and therefore run for the rest of their life.
In some cases, depending on their state of health, Peter & Clare may be eligible for more money if they could take advantage of enhanced lifetime mortgage rates offered by some lenders. These enhanced lifetime mortgage schemes can lend more than any standard lifetime mortgage & give that extra amount making all the difference.
So as a solution, what does this up-sizing option offer: -
- The opportunity for the couple to repay their existing mortgage in full
- To move to a location near to their current property, ensuring that they can maintain the support of family and friends
- To continue to live in a safe environment with familiar surroundings including local amenities which have become increasingly important to them, such as their doctor and local hospital along with good transport links and shop
- To purchase a property which they’re happy with rather than taking on a property ‘because they have no choice’
To down-size is an option which may be suitable to some, but like all decisions taken it needs careful consideration. This is where specialist equity release advice can make all the difference to retirees making such important financial decisions in retirement.
Having an alternative in the form of equity release scheme or interest only lifetime mortgage may enable them to make a decision based on a more practical solution and providing clients ‘peace of mind’, something which is not commonly advised upon in the news.
Equity Release Supermarket has experienced advisers who have dealt with such situations & can therefore make all the difference to people over 55 & in retirement.
If you wish to ask, or discuss anything with regards to his article with our team please call Freephone 0800 678 5159 or email [email protected].