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Giving meaning to equity release

Goldsmith Williams is one of the founding members of the Equity Release Solicitors’ Alliance, a body recently created to raise standards in the equity release market.

This means I have been giving the equity release sector a fair bit of thought recently and I can see that although the market has many things going for it, it has one serious drawback – its name.

What does equity release mean? The problem is that it is used as a catch-all term, encompassing everything from lifetime mortgages and home reversion plans to drawdown and home income plans – not to mention further advances and remortgages.

And to make matters worse the sale-and-rent-back boys have now jumped on the bandwagon and hijacked the phrase.

Of course, I could suggest we go down the route of European legislation and impose similar conditions on equity release that pork pie manufacturers use to protect the term Melton Mowbray and cheese makers use to stop impersonators calling their products Stilton.

But I’ve never been a great fan of our colleagues in Brussels and this would be like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.

Perhaps this is a task better suited to a trade body such as Safe Home Income Plans, which has done such a good job of repairing the damaged reputation of the sector in the past.

In fact, defining what the sector should be called in the future could be a great opportunity for SHIP to reassert itself.

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