All equity release advice meetings must be with a suitably qualified equity release advisor. It is considered best practice to provide equity release advice over two meetings:
1. To explain the service offered, understand your circumstances and discuss your requirements;
2. To provide the suggested course of action, and to explain the reasons why it is recommended.
Different equity release advisors will have slight variations on the way that they offer their service. I will focus on the process our advisors use, which follows the Equity Release Council's best practices.
In this guide, you will learn:
I have already explained that I give equity release advice over two different meetings. Let's break each one of them down into their parts.
At your initial meeting, I will start by asking you what you are looking to achieve. I will then outline the service that we offer and detail the structure of the meeting. I intend that by the end of the initial consultation that I fully understand your circumstances and that you understand the types of equity release, and the plan features available.
My meeting agenda is to discuss your:
- Current finances;
- Financial planning for the future;
- Health and lifestyle;
- Property details;
- Your plan and feature preferences.
Finally, I aim to provide you with an overview of plans available to you and to show you how the release amount and features impact on the total overall cost.
Let's look into each of the above agenda items in more detail, and what I am going to discuss with you.
1. Current finances
It is essential that I understand your current financial position, and what effects any product I recommend could have.
I will ask you questions about your monthly finances, including:
- Are your income and expenditure balanced each month?
- Do you have a deficit? How do you manage it?
- Do you have a surplus?
- Are you planning to lower your monthly outgoings with a new finance arrangement?
- Would you like to make monthly payments towards any finance? (saving you money on compounding interest)
I will also request details of your assets and liabilities. You must repay any existing mortgages secured on your property if you are taking equity release.
Note: You can repay any mortgages from the equity release proceeds.
I will also discuss your credit history. Don't worry, though, even if you don't have perfect credit, you will still likely be able to get equity release.
I have written a guide on how to get equity release with bad credit, which may help allay any concerns you have.
2. Financial planning for the future
At the point of us having a meeting, you will likely have decided that you would like some form of finance to help achieve your goals.
However, we must make sure that the upside doesn't negatively impact your future too.
We will discuss any expected changes to your income and expenditure, along with how you are planning to repay any finance arranged.
I will also want to discuss your plans for leaving an inheritance to your family, and how any financial product could affect this.
Similarly, I will explain how any benefits entitlements you receive could be impacted. I have written another guide on this, so if you want to find out if equity release will affect your benefits, click here.
Finally, for couples, a critical conversation often overlooked is what could happen upon the death of you or your spouse. Would they want to continue to live in the home on their own? Do they have the financial means to continue to live there?
As you can see, I am here to guide you through the process, and to make sure that you have considered how your future could be impacted by your decisions now.
3. Health and lifestyle
Did you know that there are medically enhanced financial products if you have health impairments?
For most people, being asked if they have any medical conditions, drink, or smoke, makes them want to portray themself as healthy as possible. With equity release, it is different.
Most plans terms are not fixed in length; instead, they are designed to run for the rest of your life. The lenders typically look at average life expectancy to work out how long you are likely to have the finance. If you have conditions which could lower your life expectancy, you may be able to get more money or a lower interest rate.
4. Property details
Most of your property details will be taken from you when arranging your appointment, including:
- your property construction;
- any restrictions on the use or resale;
- any property defects which could impact the lender's willingness to lend.
Most properties will be acceptable, and I will likely be able to place it with one of the lenders. But, if you have had any issues with arranging finance in the past, please let me know. It will be much easier to find a solution if we can discuss it before making an application to a lender.
5. Your plan and feature preferences
By this point, I should have an excellent idea of your circumstances.
Now is the time where I fully explain the specific features of plans and ask you for your preferences.
The answers to my questions will help me suitably research plans, and also ensure that you are only paying for the features you need!
I will also discuss all alternative options that allow you to lower or remove, the need for any new finance. This helps 'cement' that a finance arrangement is needed and provides you with good value.
To close the meeting, I will show you how varying features and release amounts have an impact on the total overall cost.
Then, I will ask if you have any questions that we have not covered as part of the meeting.
I will also book in a follow-up appointment to provide you with my recommendation.
If you have any questions you forget to ask, don't worry; You can always speak to me before our next meeting.
In a nutshell, that is an initial equity release consultation!
First meeting summary
As you can see the information that I cover is expansive!
By the end of the meeting, I should have an excellent picture of your circumstances, and you should have a good understanding of the plans and features available.
You can expect the first meeting to take between 1 and 2 hours, depending on the complexity and number of questions that you have.
You don't need to prepare much for your meeting. However, having an idea of what funds you may require, and a breakdown of your income and expenditure is useful.
If you are concerned about your credit history, having a copy of your credit report can help too.
I have used ClearScore for years and am happy to recommend them to you. Visit www.clearscore.com to receive your free credit report.
Finally, all equity release providers will require that you have buildings insurance in place. If you have a copy to hand, I will certify the document ready for your solicitors.
Following our first meeting, I will research plans available and prepare my formal recommendation for you.
Where I recommend an equity release plan, I will provide you with the lender's Key Facts Illustration (KFI), and my accompanying suitability report.
The second meeting will allow us to recap on our previous conversations, and find out if there are any changes to your requirements.
We must run through each page of the KFI.
The good thing is that all lenders are required to produce KFI's in the same format; this makes comparing different plans much easier.
Let's take a look at the 16 sections that will be covered.
1. About this information
This section covers mandatory information the lender must supply.
Each lender will state:
- We are required by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – the independent watchdog that
regulates financial services – to provide you with this illustration.
- All firms selling lifetime mortgages are required to give you illustrations like this one, that contain similar
information presented in the same way.
- Ask for other illustrations if you want to compare this lifetime mortgage with lifetime mortgages from
- The Money Advice Service provides useful information on lifetime mortgages and other ways of
releasing equity from your home in a booklet called 'Equity Release Schemes, Lifetime Mortgages
and Home Reversion Plans'. You can get this free through the Money Advice Service website www.
moneyadviceservice.org.uk or by calling 0300 500 5000.
2. Which service were you provided with
All equity release plans must be sold on an advised basis. Meaning that a qualified advisor must only make their recommendation to proceed, having assessed your needs.
I will have ticked the box to show that I am providing your illustration on this basis.
3. What is a lifetime mortgage
Will explain the equity release plan I am recommending. The information included here will match the discussions we will have had in our first meeting.
4. What you have told us
This will show details that I have used to produce the illustration, including:
- The amount of money you will be provided with;
- Your age(s);
- Your estimated property value.
5. Description of this mortgage
Provides you with information specific to the lifetime mortgage that I am recommending. You will likely find information on additional borrowing, repayment of the loan, the interest rate, estimated term, maximum amount available to you and details of any restrictions.
States how much money you would receive and any contributions to fees from the lender.
The Equity Release Council standards safeguard all lifetime mortgages that I recommend.
One such benefit is the "no negative equity guarantee". This means that neither you or your beneficiaries will never owe more than your house is worth. Even if house prices crash, your lifetime mortgage will never leave a debt to your estate more than your home is worth.
This is an essential section that we will discuss in detail. You must understand all the risks involved with the recommended mortgage.
8. What you will owe and when
I like this section, it clearly shows you how much interest charged, year by year, in a simple table format.
The number of years the table shows is based on average life expectancy. So, if you believe that you are likely to live longer, I can provide you with an amended grid showing the additional years.
9. Will the interest rate change?
This will state whether the interest rate is fixed for life, a set term, or variable. In the current market, the vast majority of lifetime mortgages have interest rates that are fixed for life.
10. How the value of your home could change
You will be shown what your house price will be if the value increased or decreased by 1% each year for the estimated term.
Remember, changes to house prices are compound too!
Over the past three decades, we have seen larger growths than this, so you may feel this is too low, but past performance does not guarantee future growth! The FCA requires the lender to detail based on these figures.
11. What fees you must pay
This will state all the fees you are being charged, including any:
- Valuation fees;
- Arrangement fees;
- Redemption fees;
- Estimated legal fees;
- Financial advice fees;
You will require sufficient buildings insurance in place. You are not required to take this out with the lender or with Money Release.
13. What happens if you do not want this mortgage anymore
You are always able to repay a lifetime mortgage at any point in time. However, you may incur a penalty for repaying before the natural term-end.
This section will detail and early repayment charges you could incur outside of any pre-agreed amounts.
It will also detail any plan features that enable you to make a payment back early without having to pay an early repayment charge. A common feature that I recommend for joint applications is the "significant life event exemption". This allows you to repay within three years of the death of the first borrower, or the first borrower entering long term care, free from any penalty.
14. Additional features
If you are allowed to make partial repayments on your lifetime mortgage, you will find details of them here. You will also find details of how to make any future additional borrowings or accessing any pre-agreed reserve facilities.
15. Overall cost of the mortgage
The overall cost for comparison interest rate (APR) and the total cost of the finance over the estimated term.
16. Using a mortgage intermediary
The financial advisor will likely receive a commission from the lender for arranging the finance. You will find the monetary amount detailed here.
Lenders may pay different advisors varying amounts for arranging the same finance. Still, the cost to you as their client will always be the same.
Finally, Contact details
Here you will find my contact details. Once the equity release is arranged, you will be able to speak with your lender directly. Until this point, you will need to discuss the mortgage with me (or one of my colleagues!).
After we have discussed my recommendation
I will ask you if my recommendation meets your requirements and whether you wish to proceed. If you do, I will have all the documents ready for you to sign to enable me to apply.
To submit an application, I will require you to:
- Confirm that the information provided has been complete and accurate;
- Confirm that I have provided you with your KFI and suitability report;
- Provide me with proof of your identity and address;
- Agree to our Terms of Business, and allow me to submit your application to the lender;
- Sign the lender's application (where a signature is required).
Recommendation meeting summary
I will provide my recommendation and explain the reasons why I am suggesting the course of action.
At the end of the meeting, I will likely invite you to make an application. If this is the case, I will have already completed the paperwork for you ready to sign.
Sometimes other meetings are needed too, so don't feel that you have to decide if equity release is right for you from just two appointments.
You can expect the recommendation meeting to take between 1 and 2 hours, depending on how many questions you have.
It is essential that you have faith in your financial advisor and are comfortable with the advice you receive.
But how do you know that they are providing you with the correct information?
I have written 13 great questions to ask your equity release advisor to help you weed out the bad from the good.
Plus, I offer free initial advice and do not charge anything upfront. So even if you are speaking with other advisors, arrange your free appointment with me for comparable advice.
If you have further questions, why not speak with one of our qualified advisors?
Call us on 0207 158 0881 or use our online form to book your FREE consultation.
While a qualified equity release advisor has written this guide, it is not intended to be used as financial nor legal advice and should not be relied upon.
To understand the full features and risks of an Equity Release plan, ask for a personalised illustration.
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