Equity release sees pandemic effects in Q2

Older homeowners released £1.47 billion worth of property wealth in the first half of 2020 but this was driven by a buoyant Q1 as the impact of the coronavirus and resulting political and economic uncertainty hit the market in Q2, the new look Market Monitor from equity release adviser Key shows.

Related topics:  Retirement
Amy Loddington | Financial Reporter
14th July 2020
slow down road

Between Q1 2020 (11,495) and Q2 2020 (8,374), the market saw a 27% fall in the number of customers using equity release and a 45% fall in the amount of new equity released (£949 million to £521 million). The total value of plans including reserved drawdown fell from £1.32 billion (Q1 2020) to £767 million (Q2 2020) over the same period.

While some of this may be due to customers being more cautious, demand has remained strong so the servicing challenges faced by the industry due to lockdown are likely to have had some impact which suggests we may see a bounce back in Q3.

Will Hale, CEO at Key, said:

“The unprecedented circumstances the UK and the world finds itself in due to the coronavirus has been reflected in the significant slowdown in the equity release market in the second quarter. Whilst the sector has been remarkably resilient in adjusting working practices in the face of lockdown to ensure we can continue to help customers, there are a number of knock on effects from the current pandemic.

“Indeed, not only are cases taking longer to complete but it is only appropriate that people are delaying their decision to access their housing equity due to the current uncertainty. At Key, we have certainly been having these types of conversations with customers and really focused on helping people decide whether they have an immediate need or perhaps can wait until society returns to a situation when booking a holiday or age-proofing their home is possible.

“That said, demand has remained strong as more customers look to explore how housing equity could help support them in later life and, as we move to more normal trading conditions, we are confident that these macro drivers will ensure that we will return to growth by year end and into 2021.”

The report also highlights that in H1 2020, while 59% of people spent some of the equity they released on home or garden renovations only 16% of the proceeds were spent on this reason. Instead, repaying mortgages (24%) and gifting (21%) were more common.

Given the unusual situation the economy finds itself in, Key also looked at how spending patterns in Q1 2020 differed from those in Q2 2020. This suggested that customers were focused on making their finances more secure (+6% spent on mortgage repayment) rather than discretionary spending (-4% spent on holidays).

The total market including unused drawdown facilities was worth £2.04 billion in the six months compared with £2.38 billion with the value of reserved drawdown falling to £624 million from £706 million. In the first quarter the value of reserved drawdown was higher than last year at £390 million compared with £340 million.

The average loan amount fell slightly in H1 2020 to £74,014 (H1 2019 - £76,064) while the average property value increased slightly to £321,209 (H1 2019 - £318,571). Average customer ages also remained relatively static at 70-years old (H1 2019 – 71 years old).

Hale continued:

“Q1 2020 was very different from Q2 2020 and it is only appropriate that those customers exploring equity release during the time of the pandemic have been focused on shoring up their finances by repaying debt and supporting their wider families rather than looking to spend money on holidays or home and garden improvements. Even with the changes that the Chancellor recently announced, many older consumers are likely to be extremely cautious about their choices around their spending for the foreseeable future – although we may see an increase in gifting to family members looking to get on, or move up, the housing ladder given the stamp duty holiday. "


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