What is the procedure involved in equity release?

Before you sign up to an equity release scheme you should seek professional advice from a trained, approved adviser with experience in equity release. You can find a list of advisers on the FSA (Financial Services Authority) website or search your local area using the Yellow Pages or other directories. It is in your interest to use an approved adviser, so do your research before deciding. The decision to get an equity release scheme should not be taken lightly and it is advisable to do plenty of research, read up on the schemes and shop around to see what kinds of plans are available. It is a beneficial plan to talk about different schemes with a financial adviser, as they will be able to offer you advice based on your individual circumstances.

How do I apply?

If you are sure that you want to go ahead and accept an equity release scheme, you will need to fill in an application form, which can be posted by your provider or filled in online. Some providers will arrange a consultation for you and an adviser will help you to fill in the form. It can be fairly complex and it is vital that you provide the correct details. Once you have applied to join a scheme your home will be valued. This evaluation should be done by an independent valuer to ensure that the market value is fair and accurate.

Once your home has been valued your mortgage provider will send you an offer, which states how much you can borrow. You will need to check the offer carefully and sign it under the guidance of a solicitor if you are happy with the offer and want to go ahead with equity release.

Once all the paperwork has been completed you will receive your money via your solicitor.

Eligibility

Providers have set criteria. Eligibility criteria varies according to the company, but most companies only offer equity release to home owners who are in the region of 55 to 70 years old (sometimes up to 90) with a property in value of a minimum £30,000 to £50,000.

Making a complaint

Lifetime mortgages and home reversion plans are regulated by the Financial Services Authority and you have specific rights as a consumer. If you are unsure if your provider is adhering to FSA requirements, you should contact the FSA and they will take action.