The equity release market appears to have returned to almost normal trading conditions, following an unusual year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The latest Market Monitor report from Key shows £884 million of equity released from properties during the third quarter.
This is up from £521 million in the second quarter, when the equity release sector was knocked sideways by the impact of the pandemic, and back in line with the £887 million of equity release in the first quarter of last year.
Also within the report, the number of equity release customers fell by 9% year-on-year, falling to 10,671 in the third quarter compared to 11,772 in the same period last year.
Key found that equity release customers are focusing on their essential spending, including repaying debt and supporting their wider family.
Almost half of the money raised from equity release products was allocated to clearing debt, while a quarter was used to support family and friends.
Equity release customers used around 11% of the money they raised to spend on home improvements, totally £97 million.
This spend on home improvements was mainly used to future-proof properties, so people can continue to live in their homes as they get older.
A further £26 million of equity release money was spent on holidays.
There’s a trend in the equity release sector, continuing in these latest figures, to use equity release to make finances as robust as possible, by eliminating unnecessary outgoings.
Spending on more aspiration areas, including home renovations and holidays, has fallen steadily for equity release customers during the past nine months.
Will Hale, CEO at Key, said:
“In Q3, we saw a return to more normal market conditions driven by many customers looking to make their finances more robust by reducing their outgoings and/or supplementing their income.
“While the payment holidays offered by big residential lenders have certainly benefited many, older borrowers who either fear redundancy and a tough climb back into work or early retirement have looked to use equity release to reduce the financial pressure they are feeling.
“Safe in the knowledge that not only are rates at historic lows but through modern flexible equity release plans they can service interest or make ad hoc capital repayments if they so wish to mitigate the impact of roll-up interest.
“Others have seen the Stamp Duty Holiday as the ideal time to help younger relatives onto the property ladder and we’ve seen £221 million being gifted with much being pumped into the housing market with recipient’s receiving an average of £57,549 to support their dream of owning a home. The market is maturing and is now very much focused on essential rather than discretionary spending.”