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Despite recent ups and downs in property prices our homes are usually our biggest asset. On average, house prices have roughly doubled every 10 years since 1974. As a result, many millions of Britons who have reached or are approaching retirement age now find themselves with a wealth of equity that far outweighs that of their savings and income.
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Equity release is an ever-increasingly popular method to release a tax-free lump sum, or additional income, from your property. The value of your home, minus any outstanding mortgage, can be described as your ‘equity’. In order to qualify for an equity release scheme, you must be a homeowner over the age of 55, or if the property is jointly owned then both parties must be over 55.
An equity-release plan is a way of accessing extra cash without having to move home. With nearly all equity release plans there are no repayments to make and with the most popular form of equity release, a lifetime mortgage, you continue to own all of your home. Plans all come with a ‘no-negative equity guarantee’ which means you can never owe more than your home is worth, and some plans include an option to guarantee an inheritance.