The equity release sector experienced record highs in new customers and total lending in the first quarter of 2017.
Figures from the Equity Release Council show 8,351 new plans were agreed in Q1 of this year, 61 per cent higher than in Q1 2016, while the total value of lending was £697m, up by 77 per cent from £394m in the same period last year.
In both cases, the year-on-year growth is the highest seen in any quarter since quarterly records began in 2002, The Council said.
This is also the first time since 2003 that the equity release sector has been busier in the first quarter of a new year than the final quarter of the previous year. Between Q4 2015 and Q1 2016, the number of new equity release plans agreed fell 19% while the total value of lending fell 11 per cent. In contrast, the number of new plans increased 1 per cent (from 8,303) from Q4 2016 to Q1 2017 while the total value of lending by increased 4 per cent (from £670 million).
Chairman of the Equity Release Council Nigel Waterson (pictured) says: “The early months of 2017 have bucked the seasonal trend of a slower start to the year, with both new customer numbers and total lending reaching record levels. Alongside this, the annual rate of growth is also the fastest that the sector has seen, as equity release continues its progress to becoming a mainstream retirement product among older homeowners.
“Much of this activity is due to increasing supply as well as growing demand. The past year has continued the trend of new providers, products and flexibilities coming onto the market. Regulatory changes, such as the common-sense relaxation of affordability rules for interest-served products, have also provided more scope for the sector to meet burgeoning demand.
“Equity release can offer a valuable solution to help meet the many and varied financial demands people face in later life, backed by a host of product safeguards along with financial and legal advice. Consumers continue to find equally varied uses for their housing wealth, including paying off existing debt such as interest-only mortgages, helping younger generations onto the housing ladder, investing in home improvements and improving their lifestyles in retirement.”