New Lending Trend – Shift in Equity Release Mortgages

A significant change is emerging in the way lifetime mortgages operate. Traditionally, these mortgages have allowed borrowers to defer payments until death or entry into long-term care. However, the financial turbulence of late 2023, marked by soaring interest rates, has led lenders to rethink their strategies. In this article, we look into why equity release lenders are now offering products that require mandatory payments, what this means for borrowers, and how it reflects broader industry trends.

The Rise of Mandatory Payment Products

One innovation in response to the high-interest-rate environment is the introduction of lifetime mortgages that incorporate mandatory payments. More2life, a leading lender in this space, has rolled out the Flexi Payment Term Lifetime Mortgage. This new product mandates contractual payments of partial interest until the borrower reaches 66, after which it converts to a traditional roll-up mortgage. It’s designed for those aged between 55 and 62, enabling them to borrow more than they could with a typical full roll-up mortgage.

The shift comes in the wake of the fiscal turmoil at the end of 2022, when skyrocketing interest rates led to increased lifetime mortgage rates and decreased loan-to-value (LTV) ratios. This made it challenging for a segment of customers to qualify for traditional equity release products. Before the advent of mandatory payment products, many potential borrowers, especially younger ones facing unmanageable increases in mainstream mortgage payments, found themselves at a dead end.

Legal & General Home Finance is another lender stepping into this space with its payment term lifetime mortgage available to those over 50. This product aims to bridge the gap for customers who cannot unlock their desired equity level through interest roll-up lifetime mortgages alone.

Why Innovation Is Key

The introduction of these products is not merely a reaction to market pressures but also a proactive effort to align with the Financial Conduct Authority’s consumer duty guidelines. This regulatory framework emphasises the need for the financial industry to cater to the diverse needs of consumers, especially as they age.

The new mortgage options represent a middle ground between traditional mortgages, which require ongoing payments of capital and interest, and roll-up lifetime mortgages, where no interest is repaid until the loan matures. This gap has widened with the recent interest rate hikes, underscoring the necessity for more nuanced financial products.

The Role of Regulation and Consumer Needs

Regulation is a driving force behind these innovations, prompting lenders to develop products that better address the specific circumstances of borrowers. For instance, the Horizon Interest Reward product by Standard Life Home Finance offers a reduced interest rate to those who commit to regular interest payments, demonstrating how regulatory considerations can lead to more favorable terms for consumers.

The Future of Mortgage Lending

The development of payment term lifetime mortgages and similar products marks a significant shift in how lenders approach the needs of older borrowers. These innovations offer more choice and flexibility, allowing homeowners to find solutions that better suit their financial situations. However, it also means that both borrowers and advisers must stay informed about the evolving landscape to make decisions that align with their long-term interests.