Could equity release help you to ‘rightsize’ your home?
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Rightsizing is becoming increasingly popular to make your home more ‘liveable’ as you get older, says finance expert Peter Sharkey.
One of the very few joys afforded by lockdown has been the gradual conversion of polite nods and cordial ‘hellos’ directed at fellow walkers into much longer conversations with a wide variety of people met during our daily walk. In several instances, these initial chats have become both lengthier and more involved, often concluding with a coffee at a small courtyard café adjacent to the riding school close to where we walk.
Not only has this essential social interaction extended the time it takes for us to complete our daily constitutional, it’s made for a number of interesting conversations and confirmed that there are some bright sparks marching around, many of whom need only the merest nod of acknowledgement to get them going.
One recent example involved an exchange with a particularly sharp regular, Phil, a retired chap who we bumped into earlier this week as he undertook his customary grandparent duties, pushing his fast-asleep baby grand-daughter in her pram. As the light drizzle grew progressively heavier, he suggested we wander across to the café for shelter and a coffee.
Soon, Phil was explaining that he took early retirement three years ago, then aged 60, after doing the best he could to ensure he and his wife didn’t run out of money.
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“I tried covering every angle: worst-case scenarios; spreadsheets crammed with calculations; what I could do to earn some money if everything went belly-up, but ultimately it came down to whether or not I was prepared to take the plunge. So I did. It took a little getting used to at first, but eventually, my wife and I realised it was something we should have done a few years’ earlier.”
He still has three years before he can draw a state pension, but in the interim wants to make his house ‘more liveable’. At this point, he threw a verb into our conversation which, though frequently heard in the nation’s business schools, is one not generally associated with a chat in a country park on a wet Wednesday morning.
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We all know what ‘downsizing’ means, but ‘rightsizing’?
Rightsizing is a word more usually applied to a corporate reorganisation; recently, however, it has become more commonplace in the domestic property market. Should you find your current home no longer suits your needs but you have little enthusiasm for moving to a smaller property, an increasingly popular alternative is to ‘rightsize’.
This involves a domestic reorganisation to make your home more ‘liveable’, ie suited to your needs as you get older. This could entail building an extension, adding a conservatory or installing a new kitchen, for example. Alternatively, you may wish to create an additional bedroom or two by having the loft converted in order to accommodate visiting children and grandchildren.
Aside from a ‘kitchen refresh’, Phil’s proposed rightsizing project involves “making the gardening easier by having a few trees chopped down” and constructing an outdoor room, a building he refers to as “a light-filled, musical man-cave” where he can practise “rudimentary playing of the saxophone without getting on anyone’s nerves.”
Who wouldn’t want one?
A new patio with accompanying dwarf wall is planned to surround Phil’s musical man-cave, which made his rightsizing assignment sound a little, well, pricey.
I asked if he had won the Lottery.
“Unfortunately not,” he replied, adding: “And I have no intention of returning to work either.”
Without further prompting, Phil was pleased to confirm that he hadn’t robbed a bank, nor were he and his wife using existing savings or re-mortgaging, although he had considered all three and a couple of other alternatives.
He explained that he had reached a point similar to the one just before he took the decision to retire and ‘taken the plunge’ for a second time, opting to release equity from the family home.
Having thoroughly analysed their current financial situation, as well as the implications of releasing equity [it could reduce the value of the couple’s estate and may affect their entitlement to means-tested state benefits] Phil and his wife decided to sign an equity release plan which allows them to draw down their tax-free money in stages.
The process was, he says, “surprisingly straight-forward” compared with finding a reliable, reasonably-priced builder to do the work. He eventually got someone to start the job next March. I hope they turn up on time.
Rightsizing is an attractive option for those not interested in moving home and downsizing. This can be achieved by releasing equity from your home, but how much could you release from your home?
The figure is determined primarily by your age, health and your property’s value, which must be at least £70,000. These are the principle requirements, although alternative options exist based upon personal circumstances. You can get a very good idea of how much equity you can release by visiting the Moneymapp.com website and filling out the equity release calculator.
It’s worth noting that equity release isn’t a panacea. It’s not suitable for everyone and it may compromise your eligibility for means-tested state benefits.
As many readers have already discovered, there’s a wealth of information to be discovered at: https://www.moneymapp.com/equity-release . In addition, there are hundreds of blogs and articles dealing with the subject on the Moneymapp website, including Peter Sharkey’s weekly blog, rated among the UK’s very best. Read more at: https://www.moneymapp.com/blog
You may still email any queries or questions regarding equity release to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that Moneymapp.com cannot advise readers on whether equity release is suitable for them. However, Moneymapp.com can introduce readers to professional advisers who will explain the process and its implications for your estate and entitlement to means-tested state benefits.
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