From a total of 66 plans in April 2016, to 510 at the time of writing, the number of available lifetime mortgages in the market has risen rapidly. That figure also represents a year-on-year increase from 423 available deals.
Additionally, the market’s growing competitiveness has also greatly affected interest rates, with the market average sitting at 6.15 per cent in April 2016, but reducing to 4.07 per cent at the time of writing. Which is a slight rise from the low of 3.86 per cent seen in March of this year).
Need for product adaptability
Nonetheless, it’s important that those in the later life lending sector don’t lose sight of the importance of creating flexible plans that can evolve and accommodate customers’ changing circumstances.
For many, the past 18 months or so have only served to underline the changeability of life, and consequently, a vast proportion of those seeking retirement solutions will be entering the market with a potential sense of cautiousness.
Thankfully, the market is arguably at a point of unparalleled innovation and customer-focused development.
The Equity Release Council’s Spring Report highlighted a 10 per cent year-on-year increase in the proportion of plans offering early repayments, charge-free voluntary capital repayments at 64 per cent compared to 54 per cent.
This is at a time when there is also a huge variety in annual early repayment charge (ERC) free repayment thresholds to suit a variety of situations, right up to the 40 per cent being offered by our own Heritage Freedom 40 product.
Furthermore, 48 per cent of products are now potentially available to those living in sheltered accommodation, subject to individual lender criteria, 45 per cent have downsizing repayment options, and 56 per cent offer fixed early repayment charges.
As an organisation, we are only too aware of our responsibility to continually enhance and develop our ranges to provide customers with flexible retirement solutions that can evolve with their lives.
This includes the personalised, flexible pricing on our Classic range, that is contingent on several factors including age, loan amount, property type and postcode.
Additionally, this encourages responsible borrowing by promoting the option to borrow for specific amounts rather than the maximum available within their loan to value (LTV) bracket or property value.
Additionally, we’ve sought to ensure we offer ERC-free partial repayments on all of our products thanks to improvements to our Sovereign range, and we’ve continued to ensure those wishing to repay higher amounts are catered for through the launch of our Heritage Freedom 20 product.
Innovation and flexibility will need to be at the forefront of industry thinking if it’s to capture customers as they begin to feel more comfortable making major financial decisions.
I am proud to be heading an organisation who’ve taken that mindset to heart, but it’s also gratifying to see the wider industry also rising to the challenge. Long may it continue.