The number of UK adults who would consider equity release has risen by 23% over the past year according to research from the Equity Release Solicitors’ Alliance (ERSA).*
The percentage of who would consider equity release as part of their retirement planning has increased from 54% to 77% while the percentage of consumers with a negative view of equity release has also fallen from 42% to 23% in the same period.
The research also asked consumers what measures would increase their confidence in the equity release sector. The most popular measure was a recognisable mark of excellence among equity release professionals which membership of trade organisations such as ERSA and the Equity Release Council provides. Forty two percent of people identified this measure.
Of other measures to increase confidence, over a quarter (26%) said specialist legal and financial advice would improve their perception. Twenty eight percent cited government endorsement and 25% said word of mouth recommendations would help. Just 10% thought high street firms entering the market would boost their confidence.
Claire Barker, Chairman of ERSA comments,
““It is really positive to see perceptions of equity release are continuing to improve and consumer confidence is growing. However, there is still work to be done. Clearly specialist advice and recognisable signs of quality are a very important part of this which is why trade organisations are so important. The grouping of specialists under a banner signals quality and expertise to consumers, and we in the industry need to ensure we continue to promote specialist organisations such as ERSA and The Council and seek to recruit new members.”
While specialist advice and a recognisable mark of excellence are seen as ways to improve confidence, 30% of people admitted they wouldn’t know how to judge if someone was a specialist equity release adviser or lawyer. Additionally, 40% expect specialist advice to be more expensive than non-specialist advice. However, it is often the case that specialists are cheaper as their expertise means it takes them less time to complete each case. For example, ERSA members tend to complete an equity release case in around two – three weeks, post-offer on average.
Claire Barker adds:
“That people don’t know how to identify a specialist, and that there is a misperception that expert advice is more expensive suggests some people aren’t managing to find the quality of advice they require. For these people, the continued promotion of industry organisations should help, as well as the message that expert advice is often cheaper than non-specialist advice. Equity release is a complicated transaction and significant undertaking, and specialist advisers and expert lawyers are fully equipped to ensure all parties understand the long-term nature of the agreement.”
*Current research conducted among 1,028 consumers by Wriglesworth Research between March 8th and April 15th 2013. Tracking research conducted by Wriglesworth Research between 6th – 25th June 2012 among 1,113 UK adults.