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Number of equity release customers surges by 23%

The number of customers releasing equity from their homes jumped by 23 per cent in the second half of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017, new lending figures show.

The Equity Release Council found that the number of products available to home owners who want to borrow against the value of their home has doubled over the past year to 221.

The Council found that 43,879 over-55s released home equity between July and December last year, including 24,907 new plans agreed.

Its research shows that over-55s are now borrowing the equivalent of 50p in home equity for every £1 that is being withdrawn from retirement savings through pension freedoms.

The trade body says that all regions of the UK saw double-digit growth in the number of equity release loans taken out between the 2016/17 and 2018/19 tax years.

The East Midlands saw the greatest leap as new equity release loans taken out over the period rose by 26 per cent, while London saw the smallest increase of 12 per cent.

However, looking back over five years, London has been one of the areas that has seen the strongest equity release growth with the number of new loans increasing by 138 per cent since 2012/13.

The East of England saw even higher growth of 158 per cent over five years, while the South East also saw stronger growth than London at 143 per cent.

Product innovation has helped to drive the growing popularity of equity release, according to the trade body.

The second half of 2018, saw the launch of regular income lifetime mortgages, which allow borrowers to receive monthly payments similar to a pension in order to help meet their everyday living costs.

Meanwhile the Council says that more than half of equity release products now offer downsizing protection and there are also more options for borrowers who want to make regular interest payments in order to help preserve the value of their remaining estate.

Equity Release Council chairman David Burrowes says that 2018 was the year in which equity release firmly entered the mainstream of financial planning.

He adds: “Flexible options to access housing wealth are helping the nation’s growing population of older homeowners to fund lifestyle purchases, satisfy daily needs, support long-term financial planning or assist their families.”

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