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Equity Release Council
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Since the start of the pandemic in early 2020 and the subsequent lockdown, Equity Release has seen a lot of changes. Many of these changes have been for the good of clients and have made Lifetime Mortgages more accessible to homeowners over the age of 55.
Whilst much of the Residential Mortgage market seemed to be paralysed by the onset of lockdowns, the Equity Release market showed a willingness to work together and adapt for the benefit of its potential clients.
The Equity Release Council liaised with lenders and solicitors and agreed a process that meant that Brokers could give advice over the phone, email and video calls. Our older clients could still socially distance whilst planning their long term financial future withe specialist Equity Release advice.
New ways to advise clients
At Ocean, we found two main aspects of our business changed. Firstly, we received a lot more enquiries from clients all over the country who had seen our new website and watched the Equity Release videos and read the guides and downloads. The new Equity Release calculator with no personal details required proved a big hit.
Secondly, clients, who used to insist on face-to-face advice now only wanted phone and email advice. This proved tricky to start with as it was a new way of working, however this is how we currently give all advice.
Lenders and surveyors brilliant service
Lenders work closely with their surveyors, and most surveys now take place within a week of the application. This is even true during lockdowns. The surveyors wear PPE and socially distance but still get their job done. This means that many mortgage offers are issued within three weeks of applications.
Solicitors still struggling to keep up with demand
As Equity Release conveyancing is a specialist area, clients really need to ensure that their legal advice is from a firm who are used to Lifetime Mortgages. The lenders solicitors ask a lot of in-depth questions which are far better answered by the experts. This stage of the process is still taking too long though, and conveyancing can take two to three months.
Lessons from the last year
The Equity Release industry should be proud of the way it has worked during the last 12 months. Huge progress has been made in nearly every aspect of the process to give better service to clients. However, we should not rest on our laurels. The process is only as good as its worst stage, and whilst the time taken for the conveyancing continues to be as long, we still have work to do.