Equity release, seen by many agents as a reason why fewer older homeowners are downsizing these days, has reported more growth in the early part of 2019.
The Equity Release Council says that over the course of the first quarter of 2019 some £936m of property wealth was unlocked by 20,397 customers, including 10,854 who agreed new plans.
It says this level of activity was the highest seen to date for the first quarter of any year since records began in 1991.
Total customers served in Q1 2019 increased 10 per cent year-on-year, while the total equity released increased by eight per cent and the number of new plans agreed by six per cent.
The council claims that since Q1 2015 the equity release market has grown significantly, with the value of housing wealth accessed between January and March almost trebling from £326m to £936m.
The number of new plans agreed has more than doubled from 4,880 to 10,854 over the same period.
The Q1 figures follow what equity release leaders call “a breakthrough year” in 2018 where over 80,000 homeowners aged 55 or over collectively accessed £3.94 billion of property wealth, including over 46,000 new plans agreed.
When asked for their views on the biggest current drivers of equity release market activity, Equity Release Council members identified funding home improvements, supplementing retirement income and helping family and friends with their own house moves among the key motives for customers aged 65 to 74 - the average age range for agreeing new plans.
Among the 55 to 64 age group, paying off existing mortgages and unsecured debts as well as funding home improvements were commonly seen as key drivers of activity.
“Customers now have access to hundreds of product options combining various features to suit different individual circumstances – all underpinned by product safeguards, such as the guaranteed right to remain in their homes with no risk of repossession for missing repayments” says ERC chairman David Burrowes.
“The recent addition of regular income-paying products has added to a varied product range offering monthly interest payments, ad-hoc lump sum repayments, downsizing protection and inheritance guarantees. As a result, housing wealth is playing an increasing role in supporting the nation’s later life finances.”