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Home Equity Is Being Used To Pay Off Debts

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Author: Seamus Swords

Recent reports have been suggesting that a large proportion of equity release customers are using the cash released from their home to repay debt, this is according to research from Key Retirement Solutions.

The Key Retirement Solutions Market Monitor has shown that 56 per cent of equity release customers are citing debts as the main reason for wanting to unlock some of the value in their property. This is becoming an ever more increasingly popular reason for taking out an equity release scheme.

Nearly a quarter of equity release customers (24 per cent) use the money generated from their home to repay their outstanding mortgage, while a further third of homeowners use it to repay other forms of debt. With more and more people worrying about debts in this time of recession it seems that many see an equity release scheme as an ideal way to help pay off any outstanding debts. Using equity release to clear their debts can make a significant difference to a retired person's quality of life, KRS said, as pension incomes can be extremely limited.

"Increasingly those entering retirement are faced with a financial position which is far from what they anticipated," explains Dean Mirfin, group director of Key Retirement Solutions equity release. "Mortgage, credit card, or other commitments are making life increasingly harder for those faced with a debt in their retirement. Equity release for many is proving to offer a solution to those who want to release the burden of debt and to improve their retirement income."

People don't always use equity release to pay off debts, other popular uses of equity release include making home and garden improvements (58 per cent), using the money to go on holiday (33 per cent), or giving the money to their children to help them get on the property ladder or meet financial commitments.

"Equity release can provide retirees with financial freedom in retirement but it's not always the right option for everyone," Mr Mirfin added. "We firmly believe no-one should commit to any form of equity release without seeking independent specialist advice."

Head of equity release services at the Newcastle, John Digman, says: "Income from traditional retirement vehicles such as pensions, investments and interest on savings is depleting, so it seems a growing number of retirees are making use of equity release as a stop-gap."

Conventionally, equity release has been seen as a lifetime option with the money paid back from their estate when the borrower dies. But these borrowers are looking to borrow over a shorter term. "They may be waiting for investments to mature or planning to sell a holiday home they can still enjoy. Often the plan is to release some capital in the short-term, wait for the property market to recover and then pay off the debt and downsize."

But using equity release for short-term borrowing is dangerous warns Teresa Fritz from consumer group Which?: 'Falling house prices adds another dimension to equity release, which is already a high-risk product. If you take a lifetime mortgage for just five years, you are banking on house prices rising faster than the debt will grow under the effect of compound interest. Like any other investment, this is just a gamble.'

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