This figure was eight per cent up on the previous three months, but down from £1.02bn in Q3 2018.
Described as its busiest quarter this year, market figures from the Equity Release Council (ERC) showed 11,419 new customers opted to release cash from their properties in the quarter – a six per cent increase in borrowers.
So far this year, over 33,000 new customers have chosen to access their property wealth via equity release.
This exceeded the total number of new plans agreed in any full year from 1991-2016, since consumer safeguards and industry standards were first introduced to the market nearly 30 years ago.
The three busiest quarters recorded for equity release activity all occurred in the 15-month period between Q3 2018 and Q3 2019.
Average withdrawals steady
Average withdrawals have remained stable. The average first instalment of a drawdown plan was £63,222 in Q3 2019, compared to £64,793 two years ago. The average lump sum plan was £95,557 compared to £100,389 in Q3 2017.
David Burrowes (pictured), chairman of the ERC, said: “As a nation with an ageing population and a growing need to support longer lives, it is important not to overlook property wealth in modern retirement planning conversations.
“Industry, regulators and government must continue to promote and encourage lifelong savings habits, while also recognising that retirement financial plans are best made by taking all assets into account.”
Innovation needed to support growth
Dave Harris, CEO at More 2 Life, said: “In order to maintain the level of growth we have seen in recent years, it will be vital for lenders to continue developing innovative solutions, so that both current and future retirees have greater choice and flexibility at their fingertips.
“In particular, having greater flexibility in terms of drawdown lifetime mortgages will be key for retirees who are turning to equity release to boost their daily income.
Help for advisers
Harris added: “Encouraging more advisers to consider and understand equity release will also be important if the sector is to continue growing.
“Through lender-based initiatives like symposiums and online resources, we can help educate more advisers on the later life lending market, and explain how incorporating lifetime mortgages into their conversations with clients will help boost their business and help more customers find the right solution to meet their needs.”
Alice Watson, head of marketing and communications at Canada Life Home Finance, added the industry needed to ensure advisers were “given enough help and information”.