It is a necessary evil, but if done correctly, can be relatively pain free. When taking out equity release, there are a number of documents and pieces of information that – if an adviser can obtain or organise for their client to find – will make this process far easier.
However, as with most things, they can take time to gather and it is important for the adviser to forewarn their client – especially if they have a particular date in mind when they want or need the housing equity. Failure to do this may see the equity release application stall or even prompt additional offer conditions which may mean the choice of products is reduced or the amount they can borrow limited.
Much of the documentation is fairly simple but ensuring that the client collates them ahead of the appointment can really save time in the long run.
Necessary documents that clients can easily gather ahead of an application include:
- Photo ID –part of the verification process, it is essential that the client’s ID matches the title on the property deeds.
- Buildings insurance schedule – this will need to be effective at completion and will need to have a sufficient sum assured as defined by the lender’s valuation.
- Council tax and utility bills – spanning bills from the last three-month period.
- Bank account checks – a bank statement for the specific account the money will be paid into.
Ensure there is understanding
Beyond encouraging clients to have these documents to hand, advisers should also ensure clients have a clear understanding of each element and why it is needed. Sitting down with a client to complete and explain the forms in one smooth session can avoid the dreaded back-and-forth later down the line, saving both advisers and clients time.
In addition to having those documents to hand, the client will need to produce others as part of the identification and verification (ID&V) process.
While ID&V can usually be done electronically, in some cases it is necessary for the client to present a number of documents for verification, some of which they may find difficult to access on short notice.
These can include a passport or photocard driving license, pension book, benefits notice, tax notice, marriage or divorce certificate and birth certificate.
A common mistake clients make is believing they only need one of the above to progress their application. Advisers must make it clear that clients should have all of the listed documentation to hand, in case it is called upon by their solicitor.
Indeed, failure to provide one of these documents could see the equity release lender make it an additional offer condition, sometimes causing serious issues.
If, for example, a client has changed their name by deed poll and so their passport no longer matches their birth certificate, it is far easier to coordinate with the lender on overcoming these problems at the application stage than further down the line.
While these requirements for documentation and identification may seem incredibly simple, it is surprising how many applications and even completions are held up by the lack of a piece of paper.
So to ensure the process is as smooth and stress free as possible, it pays to use a basic check list to ensure your clients know what is expected of them and don’t inadvertently make the process more complex for themselves.