Based on the firm’s customer data from 2020, 16 per cent of equity release borrowers used the released funds to buy a new home in Q3, rising to 18 per cent in Q4.
This was compared to just six per cent and eight per cent of people using equity release for this purpose in Q1 and Q2 respectively.
Otherwise, using the product to cover essential costs was the most popular use of the money.
Some 45 per cent used their released funds to pay off the mortgage, a quarter consolidated existing debts and 18 per cent used the money for day-to-day purchases.
Funding home improvements was the most favoured use of equity release, with two fifths of Canada Life borrowers using the money for this purpose.
Alice Watson, head of marketing, insurance at Canada Life, said: “Looking at the reasons why people have chosen to use their property wealth can provide an interesting snapshot into the spending priorities of the nation during the pandemic.
“For example, the boom in new property purchases is likely to have been fuelled by the stamp duty holiday announced in the summer Budget.”
“It is largely unsurprising, that 2020 a year dominated by lockdowns and restrictions has seen a drop in people using equity release to go on holiday. While this decline is expected it will be interesting to see whether the rollout of the coronavirus vaccines will lead to the beginning of a resurgence in travel.
“The popularity of home improvements is also particularly fitting for the year that many of us stayed home, within our own four walls,” she added.