by Simon Kerins (On The Ball PR)
“When I arranged my first lifetime mortgage, the purpose of the loan was to provide a cruise for my client. Increasingly however, clients are borrowing to pay off other debts.”
Over a coffee at the convivial Mr. Gatty’s Tea Room at the stunning Elmfield Hall in Accrington, equity release specialist Alison Martin is reflecting on how the requirements of her clients have changed in the past two and a half decades. Back in 1995, she was beginning her financial services career as a Customer Services Assistant at Halifax Building Society. A year later, she qualified as a financial adviser and has been specialising in equity release since 2007.
The term ‘equity release’ – often additionally referred to as ‘lifetime mortgage’ or Home Reversion – is used in everyday life more frequently than ever before, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone understands it. Essentially, equity release enables the owner of a property – so long as they are over the age of 55 – to generate funds derived from the value of that property while they continue to live in it; it is not like a personal loan application, the outcome of which is determined by one’s income. Needless to say, the provider of those funds must be repaid at a later date, usually upon the death of the owner. However, rates can start at less than 3.5% fixed for life and the homeowner can choose to make regular repayments with immediate effect; moreover, they can guarantee an inheritance or even downsize and repay without penalty (in certain circumstances).
As Alison explains, there are many reasons why equity release is so commonplace in 2019:
“I meet many people whose pension income is not sufficient to support them through retirement; people are living much longer and could be retired for 30 or even 40 years. In addition, they may be getting low interest rates on their savings or have an interest-only mortgage with no means to repay it.”
Besides these reasons, there are many other factors behind the surge in equity release; these include an increased number of older people supplementing their children’s income, payment for medical or funeral expenses, personal debt and the impact of a divorce. In short, more and more people are finding themselves asset rich but cash poor; it is to those people that Alison, a warm, empathetic professional, has been delivering her expertise for the past 12 years. Her ability to do so is made easier by the fact that she can readily identify with them:
“In my own life, I have faced many of the challenges that are encountered by my clients; as such, I am able to give them advice that is based on my own personal experience. I have always been a naturally passionate person, but being able to draw on my own circumstances makes me even better placed – and more determined – to help people get the best deal and release equity for their chosen purpose.”
These goals can include – and often do – paying off a mortgage or settling outstanding debts, home improvements, supporting family members or paying for care that ensures they can continue living in their home.
A member of the Equity Release Council, Alison prides herself on her ability to explain equity release to her clients in a clear and reassuring manner. She is mindful that many people who would genuinely benefit from equity release may be put off by what they perceive as ‘jargon’ or an ‘administrative minefield’. To that end, as she performs what she describes as ‘the best job in the world’, she ensures that she provides the very best service and support throughout the process. She understands that her expertise can help transform not just the lives of her immediate clients, but also those of their family. Family is clearly extremely important to Alison, a proud mother to two daughters who also has four grandchildren. She grew up in a farming family in the Ribble Valley village of Waddington but has lived in Baxenden, near Accrington, for many years. She is passionate about supporting the community and actively involved with a number of local networking initiatives.
On conducting a free initial consultation with an interested party, Alison’s first task is to ascertain their needs and confirm whether equity release truly is the right step for them. Once she has established that this is the case, so begins a process of reassurance that, it could be said, releases tension and pressure as well as equity. Alison says:
“One of my favourite parts of what I do is seeing the relief and delight on the faces of my clients after I have helped them to release equity on their home. They may have been confused before I met them, but they now understand they retain full ownership of their property and that they can continue living in it for as long as they wish to do so. Besides, they can draw down the money as a one-off lump sum or, alternatively, take smaller amounts initially and have a reserve in place for a rainy day. If someone wants to begin making repayments immediately, we can look at various plans that have a facility to repay the interest and even some of the borrowed money. Everyone is different and my task is to find the plan that best suits their individual needs.”
There clearly has never been a better time to release equity in one’s property and the process is often concluded in less than two months. Of course, with Alison overseeing the process and liaising with both the equity release provider and their nominated local surveyor, her clients can be sure that the process will be handled both smoothly and comprehensively – their equity release will literally be the right one!
To arrange a confidential no-obligation chat with Alison, please call her on 01254 397 936 or 07866 965 441; alternatively, she can be e-mailed at email@example.com