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Half of older homeowners using equity release to repay debt

Adviser says independent expert advice is crucial

Up to half of older homeowners are using equity release to repay debt, according to analysis from equity release adviser Key. 

The analysis of customer data suggests 30% of people are using equity release to repay unsecured debt while 20% are using it to repay mortgages. 

Customers aged 55 and over owe an average of £10,319 on credit cards and £13,578 on loans. The UK average for people with unsecured debts is £11,830, meaning some over-55s could have more than double the average amount of unsecured debt. 

The biggest single debt burden identified is outstanding mortgages – customers clearing home loans on average owe £87,181.   

Customers in their 70s owe an average of £9,773 on credit cards compared with £10,926 for homeowners in their 60s. However, even some customers in their 80s owe money on plastic with average debts of £10,443. 

Will Hale, chief executive at Key, said it makes sense to look at downsizing, equity release or other later life lending options to clear debts. 

“Good independent expert advice is key to ensuring that older homeowners receive the most benefit from their property wealth and use it in the most appropriate way for them and their families,” he added.