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Strong demand for advice on using property wealth to pay for care

The fourth quarter of 2019 was one of the busiest on record

Despite a year-on-year dip in the amount of property wealth unlocked by older homeowners, there continues to be strong demand for advice and information on how to use housing equity to support care needs in later life.

Data from the Equity Release Council reveals older homeowners accessed £3.92bn of property wealth in 2019.

This figure has risen nearly four-fold over the past decade from £945.97m in 2009, however lending volumes have remained largely unchanged since 2018 when £3.94bn was unlocked.

The final quarter of 2019 was the busiest period of the year, with more than £1bn unlocked in. It was also one of the busiest quarters on record, second only to Q4 2018 when lending volumes were 0.1% higher.

Last year saw the total number of customers served reach a record high of 85,497, of which 44,870 took out new plans compared to 46,297 in 2018.

David Burrowes, chairman of the Equity Release Council, said a growing number of customers are recognising the important role property wealth can play in meeting their retirement needs.

“This has been driven by competition, falling interest rates, increasing numbers of flexible and innovative product options and supported by rigorous standards in the market,” he explained.

Will Hale, chief executive at Key, claimed the market is well-positioned for a return to growth after last year’s political and economic uncertainty had an impact on confidence. 

He added that the strong final quarter “demonstrates that the fundamental growth drivers of this market remain intact and that there is strong demand from older homeowners for information and advice on how to make the best use of property wealth.”