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Equity release market activity levels returning back to ‘status quo’

  • 29/07/2021
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Equity release market activity levels returning back to ‘status quo’
The equity release market has showed signs of recovery to pre-pandemic levels with over-55s unlocking £1.17bn in property wealth during the second quarter of this year.


According to the latest quarterly report from Equity Release Council (ERC), this is an increase of two per cent compared to the first quarter of this year and up 67 per cent from the second quarter of last year, when activity was subdued due to the first lockdown.

There council reported 20,352 new and returning customers during April and June, which ERC chairman David Burrowes said was on a par with pre-pandemic levels.

He said in the two years prior to the pandemic, the market would report more than 20,000 new or returning customers releasing equity each quarter.

Returning drawdown activity showed the strongest recovery, with customer numbers up 67 per cent compared with the second quarter last year. This sector was one of the hardest hit during the pandemic.

Drawdown life mortgages were the most common type of new plan agreed at 55 per cent, with 45 per cent electing for lump sums to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday.

Around 9,382 existing customers with a drawdown lifetime mortgage made a withdrawal from their agreed reserves in the second quarter, up from 5,566 in the first quarter and 5,608 during the same quarter last year.

The report noted that this was a return to near pre-pandemic levels, and explained activity was subdued in the past year as existing customers paused extra withdrawals.

Nearly 9,898 new equity release plans were agreed in the second quarter, down from 10,030 in the previous quarter.

This is the lowest figure since the second quarter last year where just 7,341 new plans were agreed but is in-line with the quarterly average of 9,822 for the first year of the pandemic.

Burrowes said the latest figuresindicationed the equity release market was “showing signs of stability and durability”.

He added: “We’re now seeing activity levels steadily returning back to that status quo, with some existing customers returning to make withdrawals that were put on hold last year.

“The gradual recovery suggests people are carefully weighing up their circumstances and long-term needs, helped by specialist financial and legal advice, with speculation about a spike of activity during the pandemic so far proving unfounded.”

He continued that the recovery was being aided by heightened confidence in the rest of the property market, pointing to rising house prices giving homeowners access to more equity.

He said: “Equity release has become a socially important means for one generation to help another, as well as meeting later life financial needs. June’s stamp duty deadline will have prompted some older homeowners to pass on a ‘living inheritance’ so that younger family members can climb the property ladder.”

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