Equity release value in Britain up, but in London hit by Brexit uncertainty

The potential wealth available to over 55s in England, Scotland and Wales through equity release increased to £381 billion in the second quarter of 2016, a 0.7% quarterly increase, the latest research shows.

However, values failed to increase across Greater London for the first time in almost four years due to uncertainty surrounding the European Union referendum while equity release potential elsewhere in the country continues to grow apace, according to the Equity Release Property Value Tracker report from Retirement Advantage.

The report says that house prices are rising fastest in regions outside of Greater London, with the capital suffering its first quarterly drop in property values since the fourth quarter of 2012.

The North of England with growth of 7.2% saw the greatest quarterly increase in wealth available, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber up 6.6% and the West Midlands up 5.6%.

Meanwhile in Greater London growth stagnated with a drop of 0.04% and was also comparatively slow across the South East, up 2.8%. The two regions top the table for annual growth, however, up 14.6% and 13.9% respectively, with East Anglia next with growth of 8.2%.
 
According to Alice Watson, product and communications manager at Retirement Advantage Equity Release, it is too early to tell what impact the Brexit vote will have on housing wealth but she pointed out that if mortgage lending conditions tighten as the result of a post-referendum economic slowdown, it could enhance the appeal of equity release.

‘A substantial proportion of this demographic is now accessing the wealth stored in their homes to facilitate a more enjoyable and fulfilling retirement. They are increasingly using equity release for home improvements, gifting to family members and holidays,’ she said.
    
‘Over the past three months we’ve seen new entrants to the market, innovative partnerships and welcome changes to the Financial Conduct Authority’s affordability assessments. These developments are great news for the consumer and have no doubt helped to further boost equity release’s already surging popularity,’ she added.

However, she pointed out that despite rapid growth in its popularity, less than 1% of equity release’s potential is being realised. ‘Over the coming years, this popularity will increase further as over 55s take an increasingly holistic approach to retirement finance which places equity release alongside pensions and investments,’ she concluded. 

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