Equity Release Council publishes Spring 2019 Equity Release Market Report



*Equity Release Council publishes Spring 2019 Equity Release Market Report*


  • 50p of housing wealth unlocked for every £1 of flexible pension payments during 2018, as property wealth plays increasing role in funding later life
  • Lifetime mortgages saw the mortgage market’s greatest percentage increase in customer numbers for a third consecutive year
  • Demand for equity release continues to grow nationwide, with double-digit rise in customer numbers across all UK regions
  • Lifetime loans estimated to make up around a third of new mortgages among consumers from their mid-50s onwards, up from less than fifth ten years ago
  • Product options double in a year as first regular income products launch
  • Average withdrawals remain stable as fewer customers extend loans

The importance of unlocking housing wealth to meet consumer needs in later life and continuing product innovation are ensuring equity release occupies an increasingly central role in mainstream financial planning, according to the Equity Release Council’s Spring 2019 Market Report.

The report shows that over the course of 2018,  homeowners over-55 years of age accessed 50p of housing wealth for every £1 of savings withdrawn through flexible pension payments,1 highlighting the increasing role of property wealth as a supplementary source of later life funds.

As product options continue to expand – with H2 2018 seeing the first regular-income paying products launch to consumers – the lifetime mortgage market saw the biggest annual increase in new loans compared to other mortgage market segments for a third successive year.2


Bouyed by continued growth across all UK regions, lifetime mortgages are now estimated to account for around a third of all mortgages taken out by homeowners from their mid-50s onwards, compared to less than a fifth ten years ago.3 


Annual % change in mortgage market activity, 2017-2018

Lifetime mortgages

First-time buyers

Buy-to-let purchase

Buy-to-let remortgages









Source: Equity Release Council/UK Finance mortgage trends

Between July and December 2018, 43,879 over-55 homeowners accessed money from the value of their homes, including 24,907 new plans agreed.

However, while total annual lending activity grew for a seventh consective year to reach £3.94bn in 2018, the average amounts of property wealth withdrawn remained broadly stable – indicating that growth is a result of broader uptake rather than increasing loan sizes.

Rising demand across all UK regions, with the Midlands seeing strongest recent growth

The Council’s analysis suggests consumer demand for equity release is rising across the UK, with double-digit growth in the uptake of lifetime mortgages visible across every region.

Over the last five years, London and southern regions – East of England (158%), the South East (143%) and South West (99%) – have experienced some of the strongest growth in consumer demand.4

More recently, the Midlands and Northern Ireland have come to the fore, with the East Midlands (26%), West Midlands (20%) and Northern Ireland (21%) seeing some of the greatest increase in demand for lifetime mortgages between 2016/17 and 2017/18.

Comparing consumer uptake of lifetime mortgages across UK regions


Five-year growth trend – 2012/13 to 2017/18

One-year growth trend –

2016/17 to 2017/18

Central & Greater London



East Midlands



East of England



North East



North West



Northern Ireland






South East



South West






West Midlands



Yorkshire and The Humber



Source: FCA product sales data. Figures for each period cover July to June i.e. 2017/18 refer to July 2017 to June 2018.

Product options double in just a year

Product innovation continues to broaden the appeal of equity release to suit a widening array of needs in later life.

At the start of 2019, the range of product options that meet Equity Release Council standards – backed by product safeguards and independent legal advice alongside regulated financial advice – had doubled to 221 in the space of a year. 5

Over half (52%) of product options offer downsizing protection, up from 42% a year earlier. The range of options allowing customers to make regular interest payments – helping to reduce the overall cost of unlocking housing wealth – also increased to 45 in January 2019.

These features and flexibilities have had broad appeal across the market with one in four (25%) new plans taken out during the second half of 2018 allowing customers to make interest payments, 27% featuring downsizing repayment options and 87% allowing customers to make voluntary partial repayments with no early repayment charge.

The second half of 2018 also saw the introduction of regular income lifetime mortgages, providing monthly payments to customers’ bank accounts in the style of pension products to help meet ongoing costs and supplement other sources of income.

New and returning customer trends


The report also shows prudent measures are in place by lenders to keep consumers’ withdrawals of housing wealth in proportion to their age and potential longevity – offering an average maximum loan to value (LTV) of 18.5% for those aged 55 compared to 31.5% aged 70 and 47.1% at 90.6

Jointly held plans continued to make up the majority of new plans in H2 2018. Across single plans, women accounted for a greater share of market activity than men, with more than double the number of single plans taken out by women than men in H2 2018.

Returning drawdown activity increased by 29% year-on-year, broadly in line with the increase in new drawdown products agreed over the last two years. This suggests that growth in drawdown activity was due to more individuals holding these products, rather than individuals taking more frequent drawdowns.

The number of existing customers seeking further advances (extensions of their plans) was also lower in H2 2018 than a year earlier.


David Burrowes, Chairman of the Equity Release Council comments:

“2018 saw equity release enter the mainstream of financial services as an increasingly popular way to meet important and diverse social needs in later life. Flexible options to access housing wealth are helping the nation’s growing population of older homeowners to fund lifestyle purchases, satisfy daily needs, support long-term financial planning or assist their families.


“As the demand for equity release grows, so does the need for quality advice. It is vital that consumers have access to professional support that considers short and long-term needs, the broader retirement picture and the role of family in decision-making. Products recognised by the Council remain the only route which guarantees product safeguards, regulated and qualified financial advice and independent legal counsel to help identify whether they fit a customer’s later life needs.


“Equity release is not a ‘silver bullet’ for every retirement need, but a growing number of homeowners are finding it can be a solution to meet a range of financial goals.”

– ENDS –



The Equity Release Market Report is designed and produced by Instinctif Partners on behalf of the Equity Release Council. It uses aggregated data supplied by all active provider members of the Council to create the most comprehensive view of consumer trends and product uptake across the equity release industry.

The latest edition was produced in Spring 2019 using data from new plans taken out in the second half of 2018, alongside historic data and external sources as indicated. All figures quoted are aggregated for the whole market and do not represent the business of individual member firms.

For a comprehensive list of members, please visit the Council’s online member directory.

1 HMRC flexible payments from pensions

2 UK Finance mortgage trends, 2017 to 2018

3 FCA product sales data. Comparison is indicative rather than exact, owing to the available data – please see the Market Report for more information

4 FCA product sales data. Figures for each period cover July to June i.e. 2017/18 figures refer to July

2017 to June 2018.

5 Product data supplied by Key

6 Moneyfacts Group PLC

For further information, please contact:

Kia McLean or Katy Chambers at Instinctif Partners, on 020 7457 2020 or email:

[email protected]


About the Equity Release Council


The Equity Release Council is the representative trade body for the equity release sector with over 300 member firms and 900 individuals registered, including providers, regulated financial advisers, solicitors, surveyors and other professionals.

It leads a consumer-focused UK based equity release market by setting authoritative standards and safeguards for the trusted provision of advice and products. Since 1991, over 465,000 homeowners have accessed over £26bn of housing wealth via Council members to support their finances.

The Council also works with government, voluntary and public sectors, and regulatory, consumer and professional bodies to inform and influence debate about the use of housing wealth in later life and retirement planning.