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Alternatives to equity release

Have you considered all the options for raising cash from your home?

We look at some creative equity release alternatives in detail

Equity release is an increasingly popular choice to boost income later in life. But what are your other options if you need to raise some extra money? We look at alternatives to equity release that might suit you better.

Budgeting

If you're struggling to live within your means in retirement, you could start with the obvious, by looking at your income and regular outgoings to see if there are any areas where you could cut back. For example, you could:

  • Look at subscriptions and direct debits to see if there's anything you could cancel.
  • Review the contracts you have with mobile phone and other providers to see if there are cheaper deals.
  • Check your insurance policies to see if you can make any savings.

You may not raise a large amount of capital this way, but you can look for ways to make your current income go further. The MoneySavingExpert website is a good place to start for helpful budgeting advice.

Benefits

If you're used to being financially independent, you might not immediately think of looking to the state for any benefits that you might be entitled to. As part of the Saga Equity Release service, provided by HUB Financial Solutions Limited, you'll receive a free state benefit check through an adviser to ensure you're claiming everything you're entitled to.

According to popular website entitledto, which helps people determine if they can claim from national and local government, about £15 billion of benefits remain unclaimed each year. Start by reviewing your situation with this free benefit calculator.

Grants

Some local authorities and charities make grants available to people who need to make changes to their home so that they can go on living there independently. This is worth investigating further if this applies to you.

Local councils might help pay for small adaptions such as grab rails or ramps, and you might be able to get help for more expensive adaptations as well.

There are nearly 200 Home Improvement Agencies who offer advice and support so that you can stay in your own home for longer, and many charities who offer grants. Find a local HIA or find out more about the Independence at Home charity.

Savings

Many people have some savings or investments set aside for a rainy day in retirement. You might want to think about whether using some or all of these savings would help your situation as alternatives to equity release.

You'll need to investigate the tax implications of following this route and would be best to seek independent financial advice before going ahead.

Sell assets

For most people, their home is the most expensive asset they own, but there may be other items that will help you release money when you need it.

We've all got stuff that we no longer need or can find a use for, from jewellery we no longer wear, to household appliances and even additional cars. Are there items that don't have sentimental value that you could sell? From car boot sales to independent specialists, it's worth thinking about whether you have anything that can go.

Continue earning

Not everyone is ready to stop work at retirement and do nothing for the rest of their life. You could get a part-time job or carry on with a ‘side-hustle’ that earns money for you and lets you keep working on that side project you love.

Many companies now have schemes that actively encourage more experienced workers to join or continue in employment, and it has the benefit of keeping you involved with other people and active for longer.

Rent out a room

If your home has more space than you strictly need, you could think about renting out a spare room to a lodger or even consider listing the room on Airbnb.

Under the government's Rent a Room scheme you can earn up to £7,500 a year from a tenant before any tax is due on the proceeds. This could bring in some much-needed extra money (and company) while allowing you to remain in your current property.

Downsizing

Once your children have grown up and left home, you might have more space in your current house than you need. Downsizing by selling and moving to a smaller, less expensive property can free up some extra cash.

There are some disadvantages to consider, including the market value of your house when you come to sell, the length of time it can take to successfully buy and sell property, and the extra costs of moving such as estate agent and solicitor fees and stamp duty.

Plus, moving may even lead to having to buy new furniture or redecorate to suit your tastes. And don't forget to take into consideration the fact that you'll have to leave what might be your longstanding family home.

Help from your family

You could talk to family members about your options for freeing up some extra cash. Although this might not be the easiest subject to broach, they may prefer to lend or give you money as an alternative to equity release, as the latter option would end up eating into their eventual inheritance.

If they do decide to send some money your way, make sure you're both clear about whether you're receiving the cash as a gift or a loan to avoid any awkwardness later down the line.

Borrowing

You could look at forms of borrowing as an alternative to equity release. Even if you're retired you can take out a personal loan against your residence, provided you have enough income to make future repayments. You can arrange a loan as a short-term solution as and when you need to, unlike the lifetime commitment of equity release.

However, interest rates on secured personal loans are more expensive than mortgages and if you can't keep up with monthly payments you risk having your property repossessed. Unsecured loans such as credit card debts, give you the possibility or borrowing money without any form of collateral.

Whichever option you choose, make sure that you have enough income to make repayments before going ahead. Speak to an expert adviser, who can give you tips and assess your personal finance.

Retirement interest-only mortgage

You could look at this type of mortgage, which is only available on your main home and works in a similar way to a standard interest-only mortgage. With retirement interest-only mortgages:

  • Like a lifetime mortgage, the loan is only paid off when you die, move into long-term care, or sell your house.
  • You only have to prove you can afford to pay the monthly interest payments.
  • Borrowers over 55 might find them easier to get than a standard interest-only mortgage.

If you've considered these alternatives to equity release and still want to explore the equity release option, it's time to check out Saga Equity Release – a FREE advice, no-obligation, no-pressure service. As part of the service, the adviser will consider alternatives to equity release based on your personal circumstances.

Find out more from the specialist Saga Equity Release team

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More on equity release

For more information and to help you understand equity release a little better visit some of our other articles and pages.