Intermediaries have helped boost the equity release market by 29% over the past two years, figures from the Equity Release Council have revealed.
The value of the equity release plans increased from £366.5m in the first half of 2011 to £473m in the same period of 2013. The total value of plans in 2013 so far are 12% higher than last year and the ERC has suggested the annual market value could top £1bn.
Intermediaries were responsible for almost all completions – nine in ten borrowers used an independent financial adviser in the first half of 2012 and this proportion increased to 93% in 2013. By contrast, intermediaries accounted for less than three-quarters of equity release product sales in 2008.
Age Partnership equity release technical manager Simon Chalk said: “It is absolutely the case that equity release is in the ascendancy. But we are a long way from equity release being considered a mainstream financial planning tool for later life.”
Key Retirement Solutions director Dean Mirfin said intermediaries were increasingly prominent because of a surge in demand and the withdrawal of direct-only providers from the market after 2008.
However, he said business was concentrated among specialist brokers: “We are seeing even those brokers that are qualified referring business to us. Unless you can generate considerable volumes of enquiries it is quite tough to keep on top of what is going on.”
The equity release market has gathered pace this year, with a 2% rise in the value of plans increased in the second quarter compared to the previous three months. Customer numbers also grew by 6% in the second quarter.
This improvement has been fuelled by a strong second quarter of 2013 which saw £239.2m worth of equity release plans agreed: up by 2% from the first quarter (£233.8m) and 6% on the equivalent period in 2012.
Customer numbers grew by 6% in the second quarter, meaning that 14% more people took out an equity release product in the first half of 2013 than in the first half of 2011.
However, the typical amount of equity released fell slightly from the first quarter of the year from £55,985 to £54,196.
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