Surge in number of equity release customers cashing in on property wealth

There was a significant increase in the number of homeowners withdrawing equity from their property in the first quarter of this year, the latest figures show.

A total of £1.53bn was withdrawn from UK property in Q1 2022, up 14% from £1.34bn in the final quarter of 2021, which is new quarterly record, according to the Equity Release Council (ERC).

There was 23,395 new and returning equity release customers during the first three months of this year, which is a new quarterly record, and the first time this metric has exceeded 23,000.

Some 12,174 new plans were agreed in Q1 2022, which is up 21% on the year, with drawdown lifetime mortgages proving the most popular form of equity release, with 54% of new borrowers choosing this option.

The trade body also reports that the average size of a first instalment of a drawdown lifetime product increased by 5% over the year, to £94,215, while the average lump sum amount shot up by 7%, to £131,781.

The ERC points out that the combined average of these, 6%, is close to the latest existing rate of inflation, which according to the consumer price index, stands at 6.2%, while the report also highlights the fact that house prices in February rose up by 11%.

David Burrowes, chair of the Equity Release Council, commented: “The popularity of equity release so far this year is the natural result of modern products offering greater flexibility and a property market where growth has far outstripped inflation, alongside an ageing population.

“After two years where customer numbers have been subdued by the pandemic, realising gains from rising house prices can make a major difference to people’s quality of life.

“Not only are more people considering equity release, but they are doing so for many different reasons and helping old and young alike to fund everyday costs and major life events.

“Innovation has made equity release products more adaptable to customers’ changing circumstances. Our standards mean lifetime mortgages remain the most secure type of retirement home finance, with customers protected from interest rate rises, repossession and passing on debt due to negative equity.

“However, it remains vital that decisions are carefully considered through both a long-term and short-term lens, with family input wherever possible and with financial and legal advice in every instance.”



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