Should You Take the Results of an Equity Release Calculation Literally?

Two pieces of information are used for the equity release calculation, your age and the value of your home. It seems pretty straightforward and easy to enter correct data and receive an accurate result; however, there are actually a lot of factors that can hinder accuracy when using an equity release calculator on your own.

Age of the Youngest
An example of how someone can skew their results when using a calculator is the age you provide the calculator. The calculator does not have any idea how old each person in your home is. It has no way of knowing if the age you input is the one the equity release company is going to use.

• The youngest homeowner must be age 55 for lifetime mortgages and age 65 for home reversion plans.

A homeowner is defined by the property title. If the person is not in the property title and cannot sign for a loan, they do not qualify as part of the new loan; therefore, the youngest person on the property title is the person’s age you need to use in the calculator. Many consumers do not know this and may use their own age which could be older than the youngest person by a few years.

The calculator shows the results based on age and home value, thus if the age is not the one the equity release company will use, the results can show a larger maximum amount for the tax free lump sum than is actually going to be provided.

Did you hire an appraiser to tell you the value of your home? When you conduct online research for equity release schemes you probably are not ready to spend the money it takes for an appraisal. Plus there are equity release companies willing to offer free valuations. This means the number you use as the home value may be inaccurate in the current market.

Factors that apply include changes in the stability of the economy, particularly in the housing market where houses can start to appreciate. Recessions depreciate home values, which is why it turns into a select buyers’ market. A sellers’ market is where you have the upper hand because demand for your home drives the price up.

The more value in your home the more you can get released from equity. In your equity release calculation if you based the number of an appraisal you had when you bought the home 30 years ago the result will be skewed. You may find you could get double what your home was worth 30 years ago.

There are ways around this situation though. Nationwide offers an online tool that takes an old valuation, your home’s location, and will provide you with an estimate of its current value. Zoopla is also an option as you can find out about properties that have recently sold, pending sales, and homes on the market. By finding a comparable house in size and style in your area you can use their sale price as the home value.

But you are working off of an estimation, which means the results are an estimation: a guide and not to be used as a set in stone amount.

Brokers Narrow it Down
With equity release calculator results used as a guide, you will want to speak with an independent broker who is qualified and properly regulated. They can offer you the best products on the market for your situation by taking your information. You saved yourself some time in learning if it is possible to release some equity from your home. Now you need an experienced person to help you narrow down the best equity release for your needs.

They can do this by asking more pointed questions than the simple online equity release calculator. For example, if you have had ill health you may be asked to fill out a health and lifestyle questionnaire that would lead to a larger maximum amount available to you.

They may steer you more towards the drawdown mortgage if you have few expenses in the first 12 months of taking out the release in order to preserve funds for further into your retirement. It all starts with the equity release calculation and moves on from there. Armed with your guide as a cash sum number, you can decide if you want to take less, find a different product, or simply downsize to avoid lifetime mortgage products.