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A key role that is central to the process of considering, evaluating and entering a contract in equity release, which is why the Financial Conduct Authority requires customers to seek advice when releasing equity from their homes. Only advisers holding membership of the Equity Release Council promise to follow our stringent Statement of Principles for your added peace of mind. There are two models, face to face and telephone advice, both aimed at protecting the interests of the customer leading to the most appropriate and correct solution for each individual enquiry.
Face to Face
Face to face is where advice is delivered by a qualified adviser who will travel to a customer’s home or other location of choice and discuss their needs allowing any family members to be present and involved in the decision making process.
Telephone advice is where the advice is provided primarily over the telephone by a qualified adviser and is supported by an appropriate call centre for the purpose, with call recording, data storage and appropriate monitoring procedures in place
There are two types of solicitor involved in the progression of an Equity Release loan. It is a key criterion for those Equity Release providers who are members of the Equity Release Council that both they and the customer have separate legal representation. This is primarily to avoid any conflict of interest between the parties and to ensure that the customer has independent advice.
For the homeowner, the role of their solicitor is to ensure that they understand the long-term nature of an equity release contract and proceed with full knowledge of the risks and rewards, as well as the legal obligations of the plan.
The product providers have their own separate legal representation in the transaction – their legal representative’s role will be primarily to ensure that the provider is able to secure a first legal charge over the property on which the loan is being taken out.
Face to Face
Independent legal advice is one of the key features of the Council’s Code of Conduct and is regarded as an essential aspect of consumer protection. Ideally, the solicitor advising the homeowner should offer to see the customer in person, but where it is more convenient for the customer, arrangements can be made to see a local solicitor, who will act as the agent of the advising solicitor. It is always the responsibility of the advising solicitor’s firm to sign off the Solicitor’s Certificate.
The surveyor (Valuer) is a key stakeholder in the equity release process. It is a requirement for the equity release lender to obtain independent professional advice from a RICS registered Valuer who will determine the market value of the property that is being offered as security for the equity release mortgage.
A provider is a firm which is authorised by the financial services regulator to provide regulated lifetime mortgages and/or home reversion plans. The Council specifies Product Standards with which it requires its members' products to comply. Providers may offer products which do not comply with all of the Standards, so long as they explain this clearly to the customer.
All members in this category have an interest in the equity release market and some are direct contributors to the sales and advice process. All support the aims of the Council and its Standards, Code of Conduct and Statement of Principles. They include, but are not limited to, IT service providers, product services organisations, care advice service providers, arrangers and consultants.