A lifetime mortgage is designed to last your whole life, with interest rolling up over time. Accessing even a portion of this built-up equity could be a great way to raise capital and offers an alternative to using your savings.
Who qualifies for a lifetime mortgage?
If you’re in a couple, this limit applies to both of you. You may not qualify if your property is leasehold and has less than 75 years of the lease left to run, or if your property is worth less than £70,000. However, always seek professional equity release advice as requirements can vary depending on which provider you go to.
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Bear in mind that one of the conditions of a lifetime mortgage is that any existing mortgage or secured loans on your property must be repaid upon completion of a plan. This can be with the funds you have released or any other savings you have.
Why choose a lifetime mortgage?
The long-term trend of rising property prices, low interest rates and economic uncertainty means that for many over-55s, their home now represents their most significant financial asset. This has seen the popularity of regulated equity-release plans soar, with specialist mortgages – known as lifetime mortgages – quickly becoming the UK’s most popular way to unlock equity.
Furthermore, with a lifetime mortgage you’ll retain 100pc homeownership, keep the deeds in your name and have the right to remain in your property for life. There are no required monthly repayments: the mortgage, plus interest, can be repaid through the sale of your home once all deed-holders pass away or move into permanent residential care.
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Lifetime mortgage rates
When you take out a lifetime mortgage, you can choose either a variable or fixed interest rate.
Many people opt for fixed rates, as you can see exactly what you are being charged. A variable rate plan may offer an initial lower rate, but this may rise over time.
With all Lifetime Mortgages, no matter how much equity you release from your home, you will never owe more than the value of your property.
Do I have to make monthly payments with a lifetime mortgage?
You don’t have to make any monthly payments, as the amount you’ve borrowed and the rolled up interest is repaid either when you die or move into long term care. You may however make optional payments if you wish and there will be no penalty for stopping these.
The money you receive is yours to spend as you please with many people using it on home improvements, clearing debts or taking a holiday. Since the equity is already yours, it is entirely tax-free. You are also able to choose how you would like to receive your funds:
- Cash lump sum
- An account to draw upon as and when required
- Mixture of the two
Advantages of lifetime mortgages
One of the biggest benefits of Lifetime Mortgages is the flexibility they offer. For example, some plans allow you to take as little as £10,000 tax-free and leave more funds in reserve for when you need it.
With all Lifetime Mortgage plans your property remains your own, you have just borrowed against it.
Control your debt
Lifetime Mortgages are Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulated and come with several inbuilt customer safeguards if your lender is approved by the Equity Release Council. These include the fact you will never owe more than the value of your property and you can’t pass on any lifetime mortgage debt to your estate with these plans. If you want to move and don’t want to repay the money you can transfer your plan to another suitable property.
Speak to an Adviser
Each has their own value, so it’s best to compare all the options with an expert financial adviser. Qualified advice is key to releasing equity, as a lifetime mortgage may reduce the value of your estate in time and could affect your entitlement to means-tested state benefits. An equity-release adviser can search the entire range of plans to identify one that best serves your situation.
They can talk you through all the customer-friendly features that allow you to borrow with complete peace of mind. For instance, there are plans available which enable you to be able to leave a guaranteed minimum inheritance. You can even request a personalised illustration, so you can visualise your finances before you commit to anything.
If you decide to proceed, the next step is to make an application with a solicitor of your choice. Once your application is submitted, your chosen provider will instruct an appropriate surveyor to carry out a valuation of your home. If you are happy at this point, you can move onto the completion stage, which can take as little as 6–12 weeks.
After completion, the money will be placed into your nominated bank account; if you choose to, you can use your equity at this point to clear any other charges you may have against your home. After this, the funds are all yours to spend however you like.
Different types of lifetime mortgage
There are three main types of Lifetime Mortgage:
1. Drawdown lifetime mortgage
A Drawdown Lifetime Mortgage enables you to release the money from your property flexibly, as and when you need it. You can choose to keep the money in a reserve account ready to drawdown when you wish.
Interest will not build up on the money held in reserve until you have released it, allowing you to minimise the amount of interest you pay, whilst having the safety of a cash reserve.
Drawdown products remain the most common choice among new customers, according to the Equity Release Council, with its latest Spring Report showing that three in five people (64%) chose this type of plan over lump sum products, which were chosen by 36%.
2. Roll-up lifetime mortgage
With a Roll-Up Lifetime Mortgage, you receive a cash lump sum rather than releasing money gradually. Interest will build up on the amount of cash you choose to release and will be repaid along with the lump sum released when the last homeowner on your property deeds either dies or moves into permanent long-term care.
Latest figures from the Equity Release Council show that the average lump sum released by homeowners using roll-up lifetime mortgages in the first quarter of 2019 was £97,763.
3. Flexible lifetime mortgage
A Flexible Lifetime Mortgage allows you to make voluntary payments towards the mortgage if you want to. Some of these plans have monthly interest payment options but if you decide you don’t want to make any payments at all, you don’t have to.
Home reversion plan or lifetime mortgage?
Another type of equity release is a home reversion plan. With this type of plan, the provider will buy part or all of your home and will provide you with a lump sum or regular payments in return. A lifetime lease will guarantee you the right to stay in your property rent-free for the remainder of your life. According to the Equity Release Council, which is the trade body for the equity release sector, home reversion plans make up less than 1% of the overall market for new plans agreed.
See how much you tax-free cash you could be eligible to unlock with the Telegraph’s free equity release calculator
Please note we are not authorised to provide advice or arrange equity release products, so we have partnered with a leading equity release specialist to provide this service to you.
This is a Lifetime Mortgage which may impact the value of your estate and could affect your entitlement to means-tested state benefits. To understand the features and risks, ask for a personalised illustration. Only if your case completes will Responsible Life Limited charge an advice fee, currently not exceeding £1,490. By consolidating your debts into a mortgage, you may be required to pay more over the entire term than you would with your existing debt. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.
Telegraph Equity Release Service is provided by Responsible Life Limited.
The above article was created for Telegraph Financial Solutions, a member of The Telegraph Media Group. For more information on Telegraph Financial Solutions click here.