Equity release sector hits Q1 high

The equity release sector lent £325.7m to customers in the first quarter – the strongest start to a year on record.

According to figures from the Equity Release Council, published last week, the first-quarter total was up 3 per cent on Q1 2014.

There were almost 5,000 new customers in Q1, making a 2 per cent year-on-year increase.

The average value of borrowing per customer was £66,747, which is up 1 per cent on Q1 2014.

Drawdown was the most popular product in the market, accounting for 59 per cent in terms of value and 65 per cent by volume. Home reversion plans accounted for less than 1 per cent of the market.

ERC chairman Nigel Waterson says: “These figures show that the appetite for equity release continues to grow despite the potential uncertainty to people’s financial planning decisions caused by the recent pension reforms.

“These have brought financial planning for retirement to the fore and we hope this encourages people to seek financial advice to discuss the many options available, of which equity release is one.”

Key Retirement technical director Dean Mirfin says: “The figures show continued growth, both in the levels of equity released and in the number of consumers releasing equity in order to secure as comfortable a retirement as possible. We expect this trend to continue throughout 2015.”