Aviva equity release plans have proved the most popular form of lifetime mortgage scheme over the past 15 years.
The reason for their popularity has been down to a combination of brand name, simplicity and the fact that Aviva have regularly provided the lowest equity release interest rates.
However, during that time there has been a cloud hanging over their lifestyle flexi mortgage range and that is the issue over the maximum early repayment charge & the lack of a partial repayment facility. It’s always been a case of all, or nothing with regards to paying off Aviva’s equity release schemes - now we have a choice.
Aviva - time for change
In the past few weeks Aviva have bravely taken steps to alleviate these issues with some bold amendments to their lifetime mortgage range. In fact the impact these changes could make, will dramatically alter the way equity release schemes will be used & managed in the future. Other equity release companies will undoubtedly take note of these new features & it can only signal the start of further innovation in lifetime mortgage industry.
Aviva have introduced three new approaches to equity release: -
- new voluntary repayment features can be used to actually clear the equity release loan over a set number of years
- Aviva apply a different approach to enhanced equity release rates by actually reducing the interest rate on offer (see later article)
- An early repayment charge exemption can be applied on first death for any new joint equity release lifetime mortgage (see later article)
Why Aviva needed to up the ante
Monday 28th April heralded the start of swinging changes to the Aviva Lifestyle Mortgage range. All Aviva’s new equity release applications from this date forth would have the ability for partial repayments to be made back to Aviva.
However, from our company perspective during 2013, Equity Release Supermarket had seen its share of applications move significantly towards the Hodge Flexible Lifetime mortgage range. This has been due to Hodge Lifetime’s two pronged attack on becoming the most popular & flexible lifetime mortgage product. Their innovative move towards being able to repay upto 10% of the original capital borrowed & the ability to downsize after 5 years & repay the loan with NO penalty has captured a large market share.
Aviva has now responded to the popularity of the Hodge Flexible Lifetime Mortgage plan by matching the 10% repayment option & additionally providing more beneficial features!
A new dawn for the equity release market has started.
How does the Aviva Voluntary partial repayment option work in practice?
From inception of the new Aviva equity release plan there is the inherent ability to make repayments of an ad-hoc nature back to Aviva. Aviva do have a cap of 10% of the original capital borrowed that can be repaid in any one year. Additionally, the earliest date that the first repayment can be made is 12 months from the commencement date of the plan. So some forward planning needs to be made & this ideally would have been made with the involvement of your equity release adviser at recommendation stage.
Consideration needs to be borne in mind that interest will be added to the plan in the meantime for calculation purposes. For example, if a sum of £40,000 equity was initially released at an interest rate of 5.68%, the balance before any repayment could be made would be £42,272.
This is where the first decisions on how much to pay back need to be made, and there are three options available:-
If only a fixed budget is available, then a contribution towards the interest accruing could be made. Should this be less than the annual amount of interest charged, then the balance will still increase, albeit at a lower rate than would otherwise have been should nothing have been repaid.
Should a level future balance be the choice moving forward, the sum of £2,272 could be annually sent back to Aviva, thus reverting the balance back to its original starting point of £40,000. This process could theoretically continue infinitum until the plan ends, which would be upon death of the last borrower or them moving into long term care. The balance would always flicker between these two figures, dependent at what point the repayments of £2,272 were made.
If total repayment of the £40,000 is required, then a repayment strategy could be put in situ which would see this whole amount repaid over a set number of years. Dependent upon how much is initially borrowed & assuming maximum repayments of 10%pa can be maintained for the duration, Equity Release Supermarket can calculate at what point the plan can be fully repaid with NO penalty!
As an example Equity Release Supermarket have calculated someone borrowing £40,000, on the popular Aviva interest rate of 5.68%pa, & repaying the maximum £4,000pa could repay their Aviva lifetime mortgage shortly after the end of the 16th year.
Could this be classed as the first capital & interest equity release mortgage?
Please contact us on 0800 678 5159 for your personalised Aviva repayment calculation or click this link.
How do I physically make voluntary repayments back to Aviva?
A reminder to make repayments will begin with the receipt of your first annual Aviva equity release mortgage statement. This will evidence the amount of interest that has been added to your plan. It is at that point that the first repayment can be made back to Aviva. The question is how much to pay & this will be down to an individual’s personal preferences.
Aviva have cleverly side stepped the issue of MMR (Mortgage Market Review) here. Whereas companies such as Stonehaven & more2life have had to adapt their interest only lifetime mortgage process to the new MMR regime, Aviva due to their ad-hoc approach to repayments have avoided the MMR obstacle. Regular payments cannot be set up to repay the Aviva equity release schemes. Although Aviva do permit upto 4 payments each year, subject to a minimum amount of £500, the repayment process has to still be managed through their head office.
This repayment process would initially involve a phone call to the Aviva offices advising them of the fact a repayment is due to be sent to them. In reply they will provide a verbal form of quote which acts as confirmation. This can be confirmed in writing to you & optionally your adviser aswell so they are aware of your intentions.
The next step would be to send the money which can be in the form of a cheque, credit or debit card or a bank transfer for which Aviva will provide their details & reference number to track. They will not accept payments without this process having been accomplished, or contact being made beforehand. In fact they could return the funds should this process was not followed.
Important repayment points to note
As previously stated, repayments can only commence after 12 months from inception of the loan. However, Aviva have imposed further 12 month conditions on when repayments can be made following certain events: -
Following withdrawal of cash funds from the drawdown facility of the flexible lifetime mortgage
Should any additional borrowing be taken in the future
In both situations, no repayments can therefore be made for 12 months following these two events also.
Additionally, the same applies in reverse;
Should a customer have made repayments and has an available cash reserve under their drawdown plan, they cannot gain access to the reserve or additional borrowing until 12 months following their last repayment has been made.
Aviva may consider requests for a further release of equity in exceptional circumstances outside of that rule.
These rules are effectively to prevent to the to-ing & fro-ing of cash funds within the plan which would undoubtedly have made the Aviva equity release plans unmanageable and unprofitable.
Functional planning ideas for managing voluntary repayments & retaining a cash reserve
Although it’s still early days in the life of the new flexible repayment options, some ideas on managing the Aviva voluntary repayments have already sprung to mind.
Unlike Hodge Lifetime, Aviva do not impose a £10,000 lower capital threshold by which no further repayments can be made without penalty. In fact Aviva will allow the continued repayment of interest & capital with NO minimum amount down to zero, or even almost zero.
This could be beneficial for those who want to see the equity release balance to be reduced to a minimum level (e.g. £100 or less), yet still maintain the option of keeping their drawdown lifetime mortgage cash facility for the future. Bear in mind the small outstanding balance will accrue interest (albeit minimal), yet for many the comfort of retaining a cash reserve may have massive benefits should cash be required still in the future.
Aviva have responded well to the changing needs of the baby boomer generation as equity release moves into the next stage of its development. Retiree’s financial needs are becoming more complex with almost 75% of pensioners owning their own property, even carrying debt into retirement & living much longer than previous.
Aviva’s latest changes will therefore appeal to both advisers and consumers alike who are looking for more flexible loan terms on the long road ahead.
To request an Aviva Flexible Lifetime mortgage quote with voluntary repayments please click here.
Click the following link for your FREE Aviva capital repayment calculation.
To discuss any of the points raised in this article please contact Mark on 0800 678 5159 or email [email protected].