According to The Financial Services Consumer Panel, which has produced a research paper on equity release mortgages, there is a knowledge gap when it comes to equity release decision making.

A survey of 45 people revealed that there was a lack of understanding around the exact nature of equity release mortgages and the long-term implications for the applicants and their families.

A number were unaware of the interest rate on their equity release product and some claimed that terms relating to equity release – such as the difference between drawdown and a lump sum – were not fully explained.

But perhaps what is more troubling is the fact that, as reported by Mortgage Solutions, some claimed that ‘both overt and covert techniques were used to guide decisions’ – and even that they felt pressured to take out an equity release mortgage or borrow more than initially desired.

Call for transparency

As a Guildford equity release specialist and member of the Equity Release Council, the team at Complete Mortgages was saddened and frustrated to hear this. Saddened because nobody should receive below par equity release advice, and frustrated because this doesn’t reflect the experience of our clients.

Equity release is a sensitive topic. Therefore, it needs to be treated with the sensitivity it deserves. Each and every failure to deliver proper guidance represents a blemish on the financial services industry. Whilst we can’t comment on the ‘overt’ or ‘covert’ techniques employed by those sought out by the survey’s applicants, we can comment on our own equity release application techniques.

At Complete Mortgages, not only do we ensure that all equity release clients (existing and prospective) receive face-to-face meetings – either in-person or via Zoom – but we encourage them to invite family members along to the initial equity release consultation, too. Only when we’re 100% satisfied that our clients fully understand the pros and cons of equity release mortgages do we proceed to the next stage of the application process.

Given the long-term implications associated with equity release and its ability to impact family members, it’s important that all equity release mortgage applications are conducted properly and to the highest of standards.

It’s not all bad, though

Despite the survey’s findings, generally speaking the outlook for equity release looks positive. Only the week before the survey findings were released, it was reported that equity release applications were up 19,975 in Q1 of 2022 compared with the last quarter of 2021.

The reason for this is that equity release is a useful, practical and effective way for those who have accrued wealth in property to release it without the upheaval associated with downsizing and moving home.

Regardless of the reasons to use equity release, one thing’s for sure – equity release applicants must know exactly what they’re about to embark on before they embark on it. And that is the responsibility of the mortgage broker or equity release adviser.

Thinking about equity release? Unsure about how it works or looking for more information before making a decision? If so, contact the Complete Mortgages team on 01483 238280 or e-mail