The official industry body making sure we put your needs first
We’re proud to be a member of the Equity Release Council, but what does this mean to you? Will you get a better service?
The answer is yes. We live by the high standards that the Equity Release Council sets for products and services.
If you want to take out some of the cash tied up in your house to fund costs in retirement, then you need to feel you are being treated fairly and honestly at every step.
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The old horror stories
You might have heard of cases in the past where people who took out Equity Release found themselves at the receiving end of some very bad deals. Elderly couples forced to move out of their homes. Interest escalating on loans so they ate up all the value of the property. Unscrupulous lenders selling old family homes at below market value just to get a quick sale. Or families being asked for more money to cover a shortfall.
The good news?
Tales like this are no longer the case. Thanks to the Equity Release Council, the industry is a much better-regulated and more customer-friendly place, with clear guidelines for Product Standards and Professional Standards to protect you against sharp practice.
What Are The Equity Release Product Standards?
These are a series of four clear, simple principles that underpin what we do. We won’t recommend any Equity Release product to you unless these are in place:
Fixed Interest Rates
Considering a lifetime mortgage (where you take out a loan secured on your property)? Then we will favour schemes where the interest rate is fixed for the life of the loan. On the rare occasion when the right plan for you is only available with a variable rate, then there must be a cap (upper limit) on the rate, so it never rises above a certain point.
The Right to Remain
You need to be able to stay in your own home without fear of any pressure to move out. As long as the property is your main residence and you keep to the terms and conditions of the Equity Release agreement, you must have the right to live there until you die or move into permanent care.
The Right to Move
You never know if you might need to move house to be closer to loved ones or to live in a more practical home. The Equity Release agreement must allow you to do this, as long as your next house meets the terms and conditions of the lender and serves as good enough security for the loan.
A No Negative Equity Guarantee
This is very important. Interest can accumulate for longer than you think and house prices can sometimes go down as well as up. We will only recommend Equity Release plans that guarantee the amount repayable to the lender after you die or move into permanent care will not be greater than the value of your property.
Working By The Equity Release Council’s Guidelines
Rest assured, we will only recommend an Equity Release plan to you if it meets all the above product standards. If, for whatever reason, you do consider a plan that doesn’t meet any of the standards, we will make this very clear in all our advice to you, so you will be free to make an informed decision.
What About The Professional Standards?
The Equity Release Council also sets out the standards we have to work by in our professional capacity. In all our dealings with you, the client, we promise to:
- Act in good faith at all times
- Always act with your best interests as a priority, treating you fairly in all our actions
- Make sure conflicts of interest are handled fairly and dealt with on a completely practical level
- Exercise due skill, care and diligence in all we do, and uphold the standards set out by our professional bodies
These are the primary professional standards laid out by the Equity Release Council. If you are interested in seeing the complete rules and guidance on the Equity Release Council’s website, feel free to go to http://www.equityreleasecouncil.com/standards/rules-and-guidance/
They have several clauses which cover:
- Compliance checks
- Rules for accepting business and making sales
- Product standards
- How we present plans and products to clients
- Checklists for advisers
- Independent legal advice
- Complaints procedures
- Only members can use the Equity Council’s logo
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) also has rules for the sale of Equity Release products, and we fully comply with those too. The key rule to mention is that only a fully-qualified adviser can give you advice and recommendations on Equity Release plans, and we are happy to confirm that our staff meet that criteria.
This may seem complicated, but all the guidelines have been put in place over time to make sure you are protected. We are only happy if we do the right thing for you.
Do you want to know more about Equity Release?
Feel free to call us, or drop us a line via the Contact page, for a chat about your needs. It’ll cost you nothing to find out.