Equity release funds over £3 billion of retiree domestic spending

The number of retired homeowners accessing property wealth through equity release continues to increase

Equity release funds over £3 billion of retiree domestic spending

One in every £90 spent by retired people within the UK last year was funded by equity release, for a total of around £3 billion in retirement spending.

This was revealed in ‘The Equity Economy Report’ from Legal & General and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).

Data analysis by Cebr predicts that total retirement spending funded by equity release could top £4 billion this year, as homeowners increasingly look to property wealth to support their retirement.

Statistics show that the share of total property wealth held by over 65s has increased from 28% to 37% over the past 12 years. Also, one in 20 homeowners currently use equity release to fund retirement, but this is anticipated to almost double to one in 10 (11%) based on the anticipated plans of younger homeowners.

Cebr’s expert housing forecasts found that the average amount of equity released is set to rise above £170,000 within the next five years, despite an expected slowdown in housing market dynamics, resulting in a 47% increase on 2021 levels.

Read more: Equity release market hits new highs in Q1 2022.

The total amount of equity released from property is expected to double by 2030 to over £12 billion, as customer numbers increase, and the average amount of equity released grows.

“Our report highlights that homeowners are increasingly planning to use equity release or other ways of accessing property wealth to help fund later life,” Craig Brown, chief executive at Legal & General Home Finance, said.

“This shift reflects the boom in property values, which have made our homes such an important asset, but it also demonstrates how far the equity release market has come through the introduction of product innovations and how it has become a more suitable solution for a wider range of people.”

Brown said that it has always been Legal & General’s view that changing customer needs and attitudes would see equity release transition from specialist product to a mainstream option.

“The impact of the equity release market is more significant than just the spending power it gives to customers, it also makes a positive contribution to the UK economy,” he noted. 

Read more: Equity release hands UK economy a £3.8 billion boost in GVA.

Meanwhile, one in four retired homeowners (28%) cited having accessed their property wealth through a means other than equity release, for example, re-mortgaging, downsizing or taking out retirement interest-only mortgages. Almost a third of this group accessed property wealth to finance home improvements or renovations. 

The report also showed that the majority of equity release spending by retirees is used for occasional big purchases such as home improvements, furniture, or even a new car (£1.9 billion).

Other uses for equity release include day-to-day expenses, such as food, clothes, transport and entertainment (£1.3 billion).

The remaining equity used for spending (£480 million) is estimated across international holidays and financial planning.

The report found that homeowners have most frequently used equity release to finance home improvements (26%). Equity release is also used to support costs such as medical expenses (17%), maintaining living standards in retirement (16%) and paying off personal debt (16%), for example paying off interest only mortgages.

According to Cebr, equity release is likely to play an increasingly important role in financing care-related expenses, with 19% of prospective homeowners citing it as a consideration.

For the April 2022 Equity Economy Report, Cebr was commissioned by Legal & General to analyse the equity release market in the UK. As well as drawing on existing data sources from the Equity Release Council and the Office for National Statistics, the report also considered fresh insight from a bespoke survey of more than 2,000 homeowners, of which 339 are equity release customers. The survey was undertaken between March 31 and April 07 by Opinium.