Three in five UK homeowners look to property wealth to ‘prop up retirement dream’

More than three in five (61%) UK homeowners – equivalent to 18.7 million people – are interested in releasing money from their home in later life to meet a range of financial needs, according to new findings from the Equity Release Council (the Council).

This figure has risen since 2021, when 57% of people said the same. The trend is revealed by the Council’s Home Advantage study of 5,000 UK adults’ financial attitudes and experiences, supported by Equity Release Supermarket.

The research shows the increasingly important role of property to help fund a comfortable retirement. With more ‘ultra-long mortgages’ running beyond people’s state pension age, only 26% of homeowners rule out the idea of accessing money from their homes when they are older.

Almost two in five believe it is becoming more common (39%) and acceptable (39%) to have a mortgage in later life. Both measures have increased from 34% since 2021.

Almost half (46%) of homeowners aged 55 and over now see property wealth as a means of satisfying later life needs. Even stronger appetite exists among younger homeowners. Three in four (75%) below the age of 55 are open to leaning on their property wealth in later life.

he biggest shift in attitudes since 2021 has been among the 35-44 group, with 78% interested in accessing money from the value of their home in future, up from 67%.

Among homeowners aged 55 – the age where homeowners can access property wealth via equity release products – key motivations for releasing money from their homes include the desire to pay for care at home (17%), boost their retirement income (16%), or to fund travel plans (15%).

Supporting the financial wellbeing of younger family members is also an important priority. Nearly one in seven (14%) are interested in ‘giving while living’ by gifting money from their property wealth to family for a deposit towards their first home, with 13% looking to gift money to younger family to support other financial goals.

With annual residential care costs now approaching £46,000 in major UK cities and many older people reluctant to go into a care home, separate research from Care UK demonstrates that equity release is already one of the most popular methods to pay for at home care. Jim Boyd, CEO of the Equity Release Council, commented:

“In an ideal world, most people would retire with a mortgage-free home and a substantial pension but that is not the reality of modern Britain.  People are choosing products such as ultra long mortgages out of necessity as the lower repayments allow them to purchase a home, save into their pensions and finance their day-to-day living expenses.

The rise of products such as ultra long mortgages highlight the changing relationship people have with property wealth as it is increasingly being seen as an asset rather than simply bricks and mortar.  Almost half of over-55s see property wealth as a means to meeting later life needs and the younger generation is even more wedded to this approach.

We need to support people look at all their options when it comes to funding retirement whether it is pensions, property or investments.  One size does not fit all. Encouraging people to have realistic conversations will provide more people with the type of retirement they want and need.”

Mark Gregory, Founder and CEO of Equity Release Supermarket, commented:

“Many factors dictate why people opt for equity release and changes in consumer behaviour tend to be reflective of the current market competitiveness. At one time people thought their mortgages would run just for the mandated term, but changing attitudes and acceptance towards borrowing into retirement has created ongoing demand for these types of products.

This coupled with a decline in pension provisions, savings and longer life expectancy has given rise to a need to borrow in later life as people look to redistribute their wealth to the younger generation, pay for care, replace their mortgage, or fund lifestyle goals.

The equity release sector has significantly evolved in line with these consumer demands and now encompasses far greater opportunities around later life living and finance. The beauty of the market today is that there are tools and platforms that exist, which help consumers to navigate these choices, enable them to review all options, view real-time rates and gain whole of market advice.”

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