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Comment: Equity release gathering steam

Interest is increasing right across the country, not just in the South

We live in bizarre times. The country is split over Brexit, the Conservatives are on life-support and the opposition is virtually unrecognisable. One thing remains constant, though: no matter who is in charge, the UK’s housing crisis is being ignored.

We are still building far too few homes, and the discrepancy between property prices throughout the country is borderline ridiculous. The fact one could buy a six-bedroom mansion in the North for the same price as a studio apartment in some areas of London is hardly ideal, but this is the reality for the foreseeable future.

That said, the situation is not having the effect one may expect on interest in things like equity release.

Not just a southern issue

A layman looking at equity release would be forgiven for thinking the property wealth divide would make the lifetime mortgage a concern of southerners only, but this is not the case. Of course, higher prices mean more total equity is released in London and the surrounding areas, but raw interest in lifetime mortgages is spread rather evenly throughout the country.

For example, equity released in Yorkshire and the Humber regions rose by 149 per cent in the first month of 2018 compared with December 2017, according to one prominent lender. London, although also growing strongly, recorded only an 85 per cent increase.

In Scotland, interest in equity release is also skyrocketing. Research conducted by Legal & General reveals that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of Scottish homeowners have released equity or are seriously considering it in the near future.

In fact, the trend is the same nationwide, with L&G suggesting some 3.4 million homeowners are open to considering equity release.

So, regardless of the government’s inaction on the housing crisis and no end in sight for the property wealth divide, it is a coup for equity release that the lifetime mortgage is helping those in retirement, from Land’s End to John o’ Groats.

Andrea Rozario is chief corporate officer at Bower Retirement

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