Staying at home sweet home…
During the last two years of pandemic life, staying home has been compulsory at times, or simply felt safer, particularly for those more vulnerable. As a result, the focus on making our residence a place where we not only seek shelter, but one that feels homely, welcoming, and even a joyful place to spend time, has become more important.
Anecdotally at least (and a lack of supplies at DIY stores!) suggest that home renovations, particularly during lockdown increased. The desire to move house was lost for many during this time, and even now with restrictions eased, many have found they simply do not want to move.
However, home improvements can be costly, and difficult to fund, particularly for those who are retired, or nearing retirement, with modest pensions and savings. This is where an equity release may help those aged 55 years or over (note this relatively young age and certainly nowhere near state pension retirement age!).
It is important to understand the solicitor role in this process. We do not advise on the types of products or providers which may be available. You should conduct your own research to find one to suit you or consult an independent financial adviser or mortgage broker to help you at this stage. If you have an existing mortgage, your current lender may have options (but be aware that they are not of course going to offer ‘open market’ choices).
Only once you have found an offer you wish to accept (or accepted in principle) do we as solicitors get involved. Giles Wilson is proud to be a member of the Equity Release Council (ERC). The ERC is a consumer-focused trade body, promoting high standards and raising awareness about how equity release can be beneficial. It sets best practice criteria for various parties in the process, including the financial adviser, lender and the solicitors involved.
At Giles Wilson, our role is twofold:
1. A colleague in our Property team reviews the lender requirements, reporting to you as our client about the terms of the loan, the expectations on you, and highlights key aspects for you to be aware of, so you can enter the transaction fully informed.
2. A member of our Private Client team meets with you to discuss your circumstances, by way of a more ‘holistic’ overview. Although some of the advice may touch upon what you have discussed with other professionals, the crucial part of our work is in the solicitor’s certificate we provide to your lender, as this must come from an impartial party (whereas brokers or advisers may be receiving a financial incentive of some sort from the lender for you in taking out the specific product).
Further, by involving our Private Client team, the equity release process can serve as an overall legal “MOT”, touching upon matter such as your Wills, Power of Attorney and estate planning more generally.
The ERC and members of it, including Giles Wilson, all aim to help keep you (where you wish!) in your home, but with the quality of life you want to maintain.
Please contact one of our Private Client solicitors if you have any questions, and we would be happy to help.