Around £3.9bn of cash was released from property by older homeowners last year, in line with 2018, according to the Equity Release Council.
The last quarter of 2019 was the busiest period of the year, with more than £1bn unlocked in the final three months, the trade body reported.
Across the year 44,870 new homeowners tapped into their property wealth in 2019, falling from 46,297 in 2018.
Slowdown in growth
Last year’s stalling growth comes after the market almost quadrupled in just 10 years, with just £945m taken from homes in 2009.
Political and economic uncertainty were behind the flatlining numbers, but the market is now poised to rebound, according to Will Hale, chief executive at Key.
He said: “The equity release market is well positioned for a return to growth after last year’s political and economic uncertainty had an impact on confidence with consumers understandably cautious about making long-term decisions on how to use their housing equity to support their wants and needs in later life.”
Stuart Wilson, chief executive at Answers in Retirement Group, also believes market growth will return in 2020.
He said: “Looking ahead, our belief is that we’ll see later life lending activity continue to grow; all the demographic drivers that will fuel this are still in place such as lowering pension income prospects, increased longevity in retirement, and issues around the funding of care.
“The industry has driven huge product diversification and choice in 2019, so this year looks likely to see a return to positive growth with ever-increasing standards and choice for customers.”
Drawdown mortgages most popular
ERC figures showed the most popular product among older homeowners was drawdown mortgages, with nearly two in three new customers opting for a drawdown product versus a lump sum.
Average withdrawals from new drawdown lifetime mortgages remained broadly consistent with 2018, with the average customer unlocking £63,963.
David Burrowes, chairman of the Equity Release Council (pictured), said: “After a period of steady growth, the market has reached a point of consolidation in 2019 with lending volumes in line with 2018.
“The sector enters 2020 in a strong position with updated standards and a greater number of diverse members signed up than ever before.
“Looking ahead, we’ll continue to work with stakeholders to ensure consumers are able to access the best advice while ensuring joined up financial planning so that equity release remains a key consideration in mainstream retirement planning.”