Surge in over-50s using equity release for home improvements

The number of over-50s customers seeking equity release to undertake home improvements has surged so far this year, increasing by 134% compared to the same period last year, according to data from Legal & General Financial Advice.

The firm compared the first 5 months of 2021 to the same period last year, with the data revealing a huge rise in the number of customers looking to unlock wealth from their home to make renovations.

This initially shot up in August last year and has been one of the main reasons for customers looking to take out a lifetime mortgage since.

Recent research commissioned by the Good Home Inquiry in May found that the majority (63%) of people approaching later life in England see home renovations as a priority in the next two years. However, 50% of those aged between 50 and 70 said the main reason they would not be able to carry out all the renovations they want is due to cost.

“Over the past year we have spent more time in our homes than ever before, which has led to a rise in home improvements to make our homes as comfortable, enjoyable and functional as possible,” commented Legal & General Financial Advice CEO, Sara McLeish.

“As well as cosmetic improvements, as we get older it’s important our homes adapt as our needs change and renovations can be vital in improving accessibility. Sadly, many people are not able to undertake this vital work because they cannot afford it. Unlocking equity from the home is one possible solution for those who need extra money to make much needed improvements.”

The data also revealed a 96% rise in the number of enquiries about gifting money to loved ones in the first 5 months of this year, compared to 2020.

Separate research from Legal & General last year, based on online interviews among a nationally representative panel of 4,001 UK adults, suggested that around 5.5 million parents expected to offer additional financial support to younger family members due to COVID-19, providing loved ones with an extra £1.9bn.

“We know that the Bank of Family has been lending money for decades for things like house deposits but, during the pandemic, the older generation has been relied upon as a vital source of financial support,” McLeish added.

“Our data shows there has been a significant rise in the number of older family members looking to use equity release to gift funds to their younger relatives, a trend that we expect to become more commonplace.

“Giving money to a family member can be hugely rewarding and can often make good financial sense, but the key is not to lose sight of our own longer-term plans. There is a risk that people could be underestimating what they need to fund a comfortable retirement and, therefore, it’s important to gift sensibly.”

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