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Record amount of wealth tied up in people’s homes


The Equity Release Council (ERC) has published a new white paper calling for a series of reforms to raise awareness of the record amount of wealth tied up in people’s homes.

The report found that total homeowner equity in England alone has reached an unprecedented £2.6 trillion, with £1.8 trillion belonging to over-55 households.

Meanwhile, UK homeowners have accumulated £62.7bn in mortgage repayments over the past decade, paving the way for housing wealth to play a vital role in funding later life.

The research comes at a time when millions of workers face severe reductions in income when they retire, following a shift from defined benefit to defined contribution pension schemes.

Nigel Waterson, chairman of the ERC, said: “A major consequence of reforms to the retirement landscape is that pensions are now fully realisable and inheritable assets, just as other financial assets and property are.

“This makes it possible for retirees to plan their finances by considering all their assets, including their home.

“For many homeowners, the logical conclusion of a more structured approach to retirement planning will be outcomes that include the release of housing wealth to meet a range of financial needs.”

The ERC report called for a new, single body for public finance guidance to provide a more collaborative approach and raise awareness of equity release among advisers and consumers.

It also highlighted the importance of traditional methods in an increasingly digital era, suggesting greater emphasis on the role of ‘soft skills’ training for advisers to help with consumer understanding.

Other proposals included normalising equity release as a socially acceptable means of securing retirement finance, with many over-55s feeling stigma attached to debt in later life.

“Increasing product innovation, competition and flexibility has seen the equity release sector ‘rebooted’ with great potential to build on current growth,” Nigel added.

“As this report sets out, there are important roles for industry, government and regulators to play in the next stage of the market’s evolution, so that the UK’s ageing population can take advantage of their considerable property assets to enjoy a more financially comfortable retirement.”

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