We don’t have a crystal ball, but we’d like to make an intelligent guess that the growth in over 55 equity release schemes is going to continue in 2019 – and providers are going to offer even more equity release products.
That might seem a bold statement, but the growth in the market over the last two years, along with population shifts, make us pretty confident that current trends will continue. Here’s why:
Growing over 55 population
With the number of people aged 60 and over set to grow from 15 million in 2016 to nearly 25 million in 2066, there are simply going to be more and more of us living longer, and looking for ways to finance that long life – either to do things we have always dreamed of or to make day-to-day finances a bit easier. With property the single biggest asset for most people, releasing equity from property to realise these dreams is likely to become an increasingly important part of the retirement funding jigsaw.
The growth in the number of over 55 equity release schemes taken out over the last few years indicates that more and more people are considering the wealth tied up in their home as part of the solution to funding their retirement. The number of new over 55 equity release plans agreed by Equity Release Council members in the first six months of 2018 exceeded the entire market in 2014, with an 81% increase on the first six months of 2016(2).
The growth in demand for over 55 equity release schemes has been met by an increase in product choice and flexibility. By August 2018, there were 139 over 55 equity release products on the market, more than double the number available (58) in 2016. 80% of these products offered plan holders the ability to make ad-hoc, penalty-free voluntary or partial repayments to their loans, up from 68% in 2017. The growing number of products, alongside their increased flexibility, suggests that lenders are looking for new, innovative ways to meet the growing demand for over 55 equity release schemes, indicating their confidence that this continues to be an expanding marketing.
The ever-increasing number of people living into very old age brings additional pressures in the form of mounting care fees – either in-home or residential – with most people having to pick up some or all of the bill themselves. At the other end of the life spectrum, the considerable challenges with trying to get a foot on the property ladder for first-time buyers mean that the bank of mum and dad (or granny and granddad) is likely to continue to be an important stepping stone for growing numbers of would-be young homeowners; in fact the proportion of owner-occupied households using a gift or loan from friends or family to buy their current property rose from 5.3% in 2008-9 to 7.9% in 2016-17(3). Both of these pressures are set to continue to grow, reaffirming our belief that demand for over 55 equity release schemes will continue to grow this year.
As we said, we don’t have a crystal ball, but we’ll keep an eye on the market reports and let you know at the end of the year if our predictions were right!
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