According to figures from the Equity Release Council, lending against the equity in residential property grew by 21% in the first quarter of 2016, the highest recorded level for the first quarter of any year, underlining the importance housing wealth continues to play in retirement planning.

Older people who bought their properties many years ago can often find themselves asset rich but cash poor, sometimes living on low incomes but often living in valuable family-sized properties.

Whilst downsizing is an option for some, there is often a lack of suitable retirement property available. Buying and selling property at any age can be a stressful and expensive process, and moving away from family, friends and local amenities can often seem a step too far.


For that reason, the last decade has seen equity release become an increasingly popular way for those aged over 55 to access the equity tied up in their homes, whilst continuing to live in familiar surroundings. Data from the ERC shows that in 2015 the average amount borrowed was £76,670.

The money released can be used in a variety of ways. The Equity Release Council reports that the cash raised is used to clear mortgage debt or other loans, fund domiciliary care, make home improvements or simply to bolster retirement income.

Equity release plans were in the past considered a controversial choice. However, new products that are underpinned by stricter industry standards and provide protection against negative equity, now offer a better deal to homeowners.

Many are opting for the drawdown type of lifetime mortgage which gives them the freedom to dip in and out of their housing wealth, and means that they can leave more of their equity intact to pass on as an inheritance to their families.


Professional equity release advice is essential; equity release isn’t the right solution for everyone. Releasing cash from your home reduces the value of your estate and the amount of inheritance you leave, so you should involve your children and dependants from the outset.

Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. Equity released from your home will be secured against it.

Clifford Osborne is a member of the Equity Release Council, a body established to promote safe equity release products and protect consumers.

For more information on equity release advice, or to book a free initial review, please contact our IFAs based in Eastbourne, East Sussex.