Demand for equity release schemes is on the rise among UK homeowners, with many seeking advice about how to access wealth from their property, meaning that membership of the Equity Release Council has now passed the 300 mark.
The council says the 46% growth over the last year reflects the increasingly important role that releasing equity can have when it comes to planning for later life, with the membership surge coinciding with an additional 78,000 homeowners using equity release as a means of meeting diverse needs.
The announcement of these figures also comes at a time when equity release has been shown by the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s finance watchdog, to be one of the more self-regulating markets in the financial sector, with the fewest complaints made against equity release firms.
The council’s data also shows that the number of registered individuals has increased from 673 to over 900 in the last 12 months, having expanded its remit to become a representative voice for the whole sector back in 2012. Since then, the council has seen significant growth in two key categories of adviser and solicitor firm membership with an annual increase of 47% and 46% respectively.
In the most recent financial quarter, lending surpassed £1 billion for the first time in any single quarter, while a further 78,000 new and existing customers released equity from their property in the 12 months to the third quarter of 2018.
With the expansion of the market, customers now have the option to shop around and take advantage of an unprecedented range of options, with the council and its members backing efforts made by all parties to provide a more rounded service tailored towards improving consumers’ access to guidance on a rounded approach to later life financial planning, spanning pensions, savings, investments and property.
‘More people than ever now see the logic in considering their property wealth alongside their other assets when they make financial plans for later life. The continuing growth of our membership means consumers can benefit from best practice in the advice and products available from a market buoyed by competition, choice and consumer confidence,’ said David Burrowes, chairman of the Equity Release Council.
‘2018 has seen equity release cement its place as a mainstream financial product and become a valuable tool in later life financial planning. Increased product flexibilities are giving older homeowners a wider range of options to suit varied circumstances, while staying true to the principle of consumer protection that has underpinned the market for nearly 30 years,’ he pointed out.
‘As demand continues to grow, it is paramount that we maintain this consumer focus while improving understanding of modern equity release. Members are also committed to exploring new avenues and innovations to help people safely access their property wealth in retirement to meet fundamental social needs,’ he added.