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It usually takes around eight weeks for an equity release application to complete and for you to receive your funds. Some applications complete in as little as three weeks; however, some complicated cases can take many months.

In this guide, you will learn:

In this guide, we will focus on the most popular form of equity release, the lifetime mortgage. For other types of equity release, the process will be very similar, and it will take around the same amount of time. But some of the terminology used will be slightly different.

Summary

Equity release applications usually take around 8 weeks:

Step Timeframe
Equity release advice & submitting your application 1 week
Your property valuation 1 week
The formal mortgage offer 1 week
Equity release legal advice 1 week
Requisitions 2 weeks
Completion 1 week

Note: 1 week extra allowed for contingency.

How long does equity release advice take?

The first step towards getting equity release is to seek specialist equity release advice. The advice process should be split over two sessions, and only then should you make an application.

Equity Release advice meetings take, on average, one to two hours each. Therefore you can expect a total of two to four hours with your advisor before an application is submitted.

There is no regulated timeframe between appointments; however, you can expect them to be on different days. I typically leave a couple of days to break between meetings. However, much of this is led by you as my client as to how quickly you wish to proceed.

I have written a complete guide on What happens at equity release advice meetings? Click here to read my guide.

How long does an equity release application take?

Following financial advice, you will receive a recommended course of action to take. Where an equity release application is to be made to a lender, you should expect a timeframe of around eight weeks until you receive your equity release funds.

We have frequently seen applications taking as little as three weeks. However, we have also seen more complex applications that take several months to complete.

Regardless of which plan you apply for, the process you need to go through will be very similar.

Let's break down the seven steps needed to get equity release, and how long you can expect each one to take.

1. Completing the equity release application form

All equity release lenders will have an application form to complete. Most require the application form to be signed by you, the client. However, some lenders only need your signature to accept the formal mortgage offer later with your solicitor.

I always pre-complete any application forms with the information that you have provided during our initial equity release advice meetings.

A part of the application is a declaration which the equity release advisor must sign. Their signature is to confirm that they have passed the appropriate examinations, and have provided you with equity release advice.

It is also a requirement that the advisor confirms your identity, and receives proof of your address. I will ask for:

  • One original form of identification (either Passport, Photo Driving Licence or Birth Certificate)
  • One original form of proof of address (either Utility Bill dated within the last three months, Bank Statement dated within the last three months or Council Tax bill for the current year).

2. Submitting the application to the lender

Once the application form is complete, it can be submitted to the lender. Different lenders have varying ways that they accept applications. Some require the forms to be posted, others emailed, and some have dedicated online portals for the advisors to submit the applications.

Regardless of how your application is submitted, the lender will formally acknowledge your application, and they will instruct a surveyor to value your property.

3. Your property valuation

Following the Covid-19 outbreak, many lenders and surveyors have adopted a twin peak approach to property valuations.

Where possible, the surveyor will conduct a desktop valuation of your property. They may require you to provide digital photos of your home to help with their assessment.

Where a physical valuation is required, the surveyor will contact you directly to arrange your property valuation.

At the physical valuation, the surveyor will enter each room in your property.

The survey is to provide the lender with the market value of your home, on which they will base their formal mortgage offer. And also, the surveyor will be checking that the property meets the lenders underwriting criteria. For example, calculating the percentage of flat-roof the property has and confirming this complies with the lender's requirements.

The valuation itself usually takes less than 30 minutes to complete. However, the surveyor will then produce their official report for the lender.

The lenders usually allow the surveyors 48 hours to return their valuation report, once they have visited your property.

4. The formal mortgage offer

Once the lender has received the valuation report from the surveyor, your application will be passed to the lender's underwriters.

The underwriter's job is to ensure that your property provides security for the funder of the loan. Note: Lenders will often have multiple funders for different mortgage products.

Once the underwriter is satisfied, a formal mortgage offer will be issued. You and your solicitor will each receive a separate copy of the mortgage offer.

It usually takes 48 hours for the lender to issue the formal mortgage offer, once they have received the surveyor's valuation report.

5. Equity release legal advice

When your solicitor receives their copy of the mortgage offer, they will contact you to arrange a meeting to provide you with the equity release legal advice.

It is a requirement that you receive independent legal advice, and for the signing of the mortgage-deed to be witnessed.

As the documents need to be original, you can expect this process to take around one week.

Your solicitors will then return the completed mortgage pack to the lender's solicitor and request a completion date.

6. Requisitions

The lender's solicitors may raise requisitions (additional questions and documentation requests), which can be a lengthy process, depending on what is raised.

For "clean" applications, there may be no requisitions and the lender may go straight to setting the completion date. If this is the case, the lender will usually only require a few days to have the funds ready.

I always like to err on the side of caution, so I generally allow around 1-2 weeks until the completion date is met.

7. Completion

Upon completion, your solicitor will send you the funds by a method of your choosing. You could receive your money the same day if you pay for a CHAPS transfer; however, it could be three days by BACs.

Summary

As you can see, there are several key steps which need completing for you to receive your equity release funds.

Some can take longer than others, but they all are mandatory steps to complete.

Remember, if you are working towards a particular deadline, discuss this with your equity release advisor as soon as possible.

What can slow down an equity release application?

Unfortunately, there are some equity release applications which take many months to complete, and there are countless issues which can arise.

Below are some of the more common issues that I have seen which have slowed down equity release:

  • Property sales and purchases
  • Unregistered properties
  • Deceased owners on the title deeds
  • Lease extensions (where leases are too short for an equity release to proceed)
  • Undisclosed information at the advice meeting
  • Property down valuations (specifically from unrealistic property estimates)
  • Separation agreements
  • Properties held in trust
  • Applying to the courts of protection
  • CCJ's, cautions, and restrictions on the title deeds

What can speed up an equity release application?

If you are working towards a particular deadline, you should discuss this with your advisor at your initial equity release advice meetings. They will be best placed to provide you with a realistic timeframe tailored to your circumstances and can help you meet your deadline date.

Where you have a deadline, I will discuss this with both your solicitors and the equity release lender.

You can also speed up your equity release application by being flexible with your time when dealing with the third parties needed for equity release.

This includes:

  • Your equity release financial advice meetings;
  • Your property valuation with a qualified surveyor;
  • Your equity release legal advice with your solicitor.

At our advice meetings, I will always provide you with details which could be raised as part of your application. This includes forwarding your identity details to your solicitor, certifying a copy of your buildings insurance, and providing a copy of your title deeds from the land registry.

I have written a guide dedicated to What happens at equity release advice meetings? which may be useful reading before any appointment.

There are other ways that you can help too. An important aspect often overlooked is the number of applications your financial and legal advisors are completing quarterly. If you work with a solicitor who has never given equity release advice before, you can expect it to take longer than one who specialises in equity release advice.

Ashfords solicitors have a specialist equity release department who are responsible for advising hundreds of clients every month. For this reason, we are happy to recommend Ashfords solicitors to our clients who live in England or Wales.

I have written another guide dedicated to Equity Release Solicitors: A helpful guide on what they do and why they are needed.

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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