Recent government data showed that over-50s are the only age group to see a rise in divorce rates over the past 10 years. Research published by Key Partnerships found a surge in the need for property advice among this demographic who are looking for help in accessing cash or loans for a new home.
Nearly 32,000 over-55s are divorced each year, making up almost a quarter of the 126,700 divorces across the UK.
Some 44% of 103 solicitors polled in August reported a surge in divorcees over the age of 50 looking for advice on buying homes. Two-thirds of firms cited equity release as a way clients could access property wealth, but say they are only able to suggest it in a third of cases they deal with.
According to Key Partnerships, 70% of law firms refer clients asking about mortgages to specific advisers, while 11% have a panel of mortgage providers they work with. However, 78% of firms questioned said their business would benefit from a stronger relationship with equity release advisers.
Will Hale, director at Key Partnerships, said: “Equity release enables one partner to remain in the home while allowing property wealth to be shared and is a growing alternative for settling property issues at divorce. Equity release can also be used to boost funds available for a new purchase by releasing money on the new home.”
He added: “Splitting assets on divorce is challenging enough but for the over-50s there is the additional pressure of having to fund a new home when mortgage lenders are reluctant to help older borrowers.
“There is a growing demand for solutions which enable clients to buy a new home after divorce and law firms are coming under pressure to provide advice on an area that is not necessarily their core expertise.”