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Pandemic alters equity release behaviour

  • Threefold increase in demand to buy a new property following Stamp Duty holiday
  • Mortgages to cover day-to day living costs account for almost a fifth (18%) of all applications

The ongoing pandemic has resulted in a marked change in how customers are using the equity released from their homes, according to new analysis by Canada Life. Based on Canada Life’s 2020 customer data, it shows a move away from using the money to fund new cars or holidays and a move towards buying a new home or making home improvements.


Using equity release to cover essential spending remains the most popular reason for many throughout the year. Almost half of loans (45%) were used to pay off the mortgage, a quarter (24%) on consolidating existing debts and almost a fifth (18%) on funding day-to-day living.


Among customers using equity release to buy a new property we have seen a dramatic increase in the second half of the year. In Q1 and Q2 this represented a relatively small percentage of customers at 8% and 6% respectively, however we see this more than double in Q3 to 16% of loans and increase further in Q4 to 18% of applications.


One of the most popular reasons to release equity in 2020 was to fund home improvements. Two fifths of customers chose to release equity for this reason.


Alice Watson, Head of Marketing, Insurance at Canada Life comments on the results:

“Looking at the reasons why people have chosen to use their property wealth can provide an interesting snapshot into the spending priorities of the nation during the pandemic. For example the boom in new property purchases is likely to have been fuelled by the stamp duty holiday announced in the summer Budget.


“It is largely unsurprising, that 2020 a year dominated by lockdowns and restrictions has seen a drop in people using equity release to go on holiday. While this decline is expected it will be interesting to see whether the rollout of the coronavirus vaccines will lead to the beginning of a resurgence in travel. The popularity of home improvements is also particularly fitting for the year that many of us stayed home, within our own four walls.


“Over this incredibly volatile year the equity release industry has proven itself to be flexible, with products that can be used to fit a variety of purposes. The world will continue changing but people will always want to feel in control of their retirement and use their overall wealth to secure the financial futures they aspire to have. This is where advisers, with a holistic view of the retirement market, can help their clients plan for and achieve that future.”