Regulation could boost equity release market

The number of people over 55 who would consider equity release under regulation has doubled in the past year, says Prudential Equity Release.

Survey results suggest that 46% of those over 55 who have a mortgage or own their home would be more likely to consider equity release if the market was regulated. Half of it – lifetime mortgage products – will be regulated from October but reversion schemes will remain outside the FSA regime.

The number of people releasing equity from their homes in retirement has already doubled in the past year to around 300,000.

The Pru says rising house prices, pensions uncertainty and a lacklustre stock market mean the market could grow to £6.8bn by 2008.

However the firm is concerned that there will be consumer confusion because home reversion plans are not included in regulation.

Prudential head of equity release Ali Crossley says: “Our research shows that imminent regulation has increased people&#39s confidence in the equity release market as a whole but there is a danger they will be unable to distinguish between regulated and unregulated products. Home reversion plans sit outside the proposed regulatory regime since they are not classed as mortgages. We believe the whole market should be regulated.”

And Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North, says: “As I have previously told the Treasury, if it smells, bites and kicks like a horse, treat it like one. Home reversions, like mortgages, affect homes and should be regulated.”