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What does equity release cost?

  • Learn about other costs with equity release
  • See how to manage your total cost of borrowing
  • We'll explain the benefits and risks of equity release

What is equity release?

Equity release is a way for homeowners aged 55 or over whose property is worth at least £70,000 to release some of the tax-free funds from their home. The two types of equity release are a lifetime mortgage and home reversions. All our equity release advice relates to Key lifetime mortgages only - a loan secured against your home. 

It's regulated

No negative equity guarantee

  • All Key lifetime mortgages come with a no negative equity guarantee, so you’ll never owe more than your home is worth*

You need advice

  • Receiving expert advice is a regulatory requirement and our fully qualified equity release advisers are here to help - if equity release isn’t right for you, they’ll tell you

*However, it’s important to remember that a lifetime mortgage may leave you with limited or no property equity remaining, and it’ll reduce your financial options in the future.

If you’re considering equity release, there are certain criteria that you must meet to qualify. It’s worth speaking to our team as our expert equity release advisers could help you find the product that’s right for you.

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What are the benefits and drawbacks of a lifetime mortgage?

If you're considering a lifetime mortgage, it's important you understand the product in detail. Here's some useful things to think about. 

Lifetime mortgage benefits

Your specialist equity release adviser will explain:

  • You can unlock cash from your home, tax-free, to help meet your needs in later life
  • You’ll always retain full ownership of your home and can stay in it for as long as you wish with a Key lifetime mortgage
  • You can choose to make reduced or no monthly repayments to suit your circumstances
  • You’ll never owe more than your home’s worth with a Key lifetime mortgage
  • You may be able to remortgage your plan in the future to release further funds or secure a better interest rate, although this isn’t guaranteed and may be subject to early repayment charges

Lifetime mortgage drawbacks

Your equity release adviser will also outline the following important things to think about:

  • A lifetime mortgage is a loan secured against your home and subject to compound interest, meaning the amount you owe can grow quickly
  • Equity release will reduce the value of your estate and may affect your entitlement to means-tested benefits
  • Equity release may leave you with limited or no property equity remaining
  • Equity release will reduce your financial options in the future
  • A lifetime mortgage is a long-term financial product and is not designed to be fully repaid until the death or entry into long-term care of the last remaining borrower, otherwise early repayment charges may apply

How much does equity release cost?

When considering how much it really costs to release equity, there are two major factors you should bear in mind:

  1. The costs associated with setting up your equity release plan

  2. The loan itself, including the initial amount and the interest you accrue

We'll discuss these two factors in greater detail in this guide, as well as ways to manage the overall cost of equity release.

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What are the equity release set-up costs?

Just like when you first took out your mortgage, there are services and processes that you’ll need to pay for when you set up an equity release plan.

The set-up costs are separate expenses to the actual loan amount that you need to be aware of. By understanding these fees, you’ll be in a better position to take your application forward. But ultimately, they'll depend on your provider and the product that you select.

When you’re working out the set-up cost of equity release, there are four fees for services that you may need to budget for. Below, we guide you through what these different services involve.

You should be familiar with these as they all form part of the process of taking out a mortgage.

You'll need to cover the cost of a survey, subject to the criteria of your plan. This is a requirement before you take out equity release, and it’s one of the key costs of equity release that you’ll need to pay for.

Independent valuation

The surveyor will value your property and send their report to the lender. If you choose to go ahead with a Key lifetime mortgage, you can be confident of securing a fair valuation of your property for equity release purposes as your property will be valued by an independent RICS-registered surveyor..

Your offer then follows

Following a satisfactory valuation, and considering other factors, such as your age, you’ll be issued with an offer. It's then up to you to decide whether you're happy to go ahead.

An equity release solicitor typically costs around £1,250, although this subject to their criteria. Whatever the final amount, you’ll need to include this as part of the equity release set-up costs.

If you're happy with the offer and want to go ahead, you'll need to instruct a solicitor. We can suggest a panel of expert independent equity release solicitors. They'll take care of all the legal work on your behalf and make sure everything is in order up until your money is released.

You are, of course, free to choose your own solicitor if you wish, but we always suggest that your case is handled by a solicitor who has experience in equity release transactions.

Again, like when taking out a regular mortgage, you may also be charged an "arrangement" or "administration" fee by the lender.

These typically cover set up and legal costs. The lender decides how much they charge, but the cost usually ranges between free of charge to £695, depending on the plan that’s recommended to you.

All our equity release advice relates to Key lifetime mortgages only – a loan secured against your home. Our £1,299 fixed advice fee is only payable on completion, so you can find out if equity release is right for you without it costing you a penny.

You must get expert advice
Before you take out equity release, it's crucial you seek expert equity release advice. It's a regulatory requirement. Your application won’t be accepted without it – and that's where we come in.

If it's not right for you, we'll tell you
Our equity release advice is unique to you and your needs, delivered by qualified experts. We take the time to understand you, ensuring we find and recommend the right solution. If equity release isn’t right for you, we’ll tell you. If it is, and you want to find out more, we’ll search the entire product range we have created to make sure we find the plan that suits your needs.

We're with you every step of the way
You’ll have a dedicated case handler to support you throughout, answering any questions you have and overseeing your application right through to completion.

Whether you want to ask us how much equity release costs, or you need to get an update on your application for equity release, we’re here to help.

ⓘ What's the total cost?

The total average cost of fees when setting up equity release is estimated to be in the region of £2,149. It's also worth noting that not every application will incur the same charges. For example, with some plans, you won’t pay a lender’s application or survey fee. It's important you speak to an expert equity release adviser to find out what you'll pay before you agree to release equity.

When do you pay your equity release set-up fees?

Even though the fees above cover the entire process, you may be expected to pay them at different times.

Surveyor's valuation

  • If applicable, this is usually paid with the application

Solicitor's fees

  • This is typically paid when you receive your tax-free funds on completion

Lender's arrangement fee

  • If applicable, this is usually paid when your plan begins, and you receive your tax-free funds

Our advice fee

  • Our fixed advice fee of £1,299 is only payable on completion

Equity release is when you release some of the tax-free cash from your home. So, no matter which product you choose, you don’t have to pay tax on the amount you release. This isn't one of the costs of equity release that you’ll need to factor in.

However, depending on how you use the equity you release, there may be tax implications. In some instances, Inheritance Tax might be applicable. Therefore, you should carefully consider the tax implications of equity release before you do anything with it.

What interest rate do you pay on equity release?

As well as the typical fees that you’ll need to cover, it’s important that you’re aware of how much interest you pay with a lifetime mortgage.

There are no interest rates for home reversions, in which the client sells a percentage of their property to a home reversion provider. But with lifetime mortgages, the interest accrues, then rolls up and is added to the loan amount – also known as compound interest. This means the amount you owe can grow quickly.

Your interest rate can be fixed for the life of the loan and will be specific to your circumstances, considering factors such as your home, finances and age.

Representative example

5.69% AER

Lowest rate with Key

5.94% AER

Rate most Key customers received, or less

6.53% APR

Overall cost for comparison

All rates correct as of 12th May 2024. This is based on customer data from the last 60 days, apart from Key's lowest rate. Interest rate received and plan features are subject to eligibility. Ask for a personal illustration.

Interest rates explained

  • AER stands for Annual Equivalent Rate. It shows what the interest rate would be if the interest was compounded each year.

  • APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate. It's the cost you pay each year to borrow money, including fees, expressed as a percentage. 

Our equity release calculator will give you an idea of how much you could release. Your equity release adviser will be able to give you more information on interest rates.

Calculate now

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How does compound interest work?

There are no repayments to make on a lifetime mortgage until the plan comes to an end, unless you choose to make them. As a result, you pay interest not only on the loan itself, but also on the interest that’s already been added to the loan. But there are ways you could reduce the total cost of borrowing on your lifetime mortgage which we outline later in this guide.

Whether interest is added to your lifetime mortgage on a monthly or annual basis is dependent on your plan. But during that first period, the interest is charged and added to the original loan amount - the sum of tax-free cash you unlock from your home’s value. 

In the period following, interest is then calculated and charged on what you owe (the original loan amount plus interest), not the amount you initially borrowed
This new, larger amount of interest is then added to your loan, and this cycle continues until the plan comes to an end
This means a larger amount of interest is added to your lifetime mortgage each period
The interest rate at the beginning of your plan determines how quickly the interest grows which will impact the total cost of borrowing over the term of the loan

An example of how compound interest accrues over 15 years

Year Balance at start of year Interest (6.3% MER)¹ Balance at end of year² Remaining property equity³
Year 1 £81,703 6.74% £87,384
Year 2 £87,384 6.74% £93,459
Year 3 £93,459 6.74% £99,956
Year 15⁴ £209,360 6.74% £223,915
Initial release amount of £81,703. Plan subject to a fixed interest rate of 6.74% MER (Monthly Equivalent Rate).
¹ With all Key lifetime mortgages, the interest rate is fixed throughout the life of the plan
² Interest is charged on balance as at the start of the year, not the original amount
³ The balance at the end of the year including compound interest

⁴ This cycle continues throughout the life of the plan

- Key Market Monitor Q1 2023

How can I reduce my total cost of borrowing?

All of Key’s lifetime mortgage plans come with features which could help to reduce the total cost of the borrowing if that’s important to you. For example, if you wish to leave a larger inheritance to your loved ones.

How making repayments can help you manage your total cost of borrowing

There are typically no monthly repayments to make with a lifetime mortgage as the loan, plus compound interest, is typically repaid through the sale of the property when the last remaining applicant passes away or moves into long-term care. All our plans come with the option to make ad-hoc or regular repayments to help reduce your total cost of borrowing. 

Even if you’re only able to make small repayments, it will help reduce the amount of interest you pay over the lifetime of your loan.

ⓘ Illustrative example

In this example, if you were to borrow £81,703, with a fixed 6.74% MER interest rate, and make no repayments at all, after 15 years, your total cost of borrowing would be £223,915. However, by making a monthly £250 repayment, after 15 years, you’d owe £146,440 - with a total cost of borrowing, including repayments, of £191,440. This means, by repaying £250 a month, you, and your beneficiaries, could benefit from a £32,475 net interest saving. 

This example is for illustrative purposes only and uses the average release amount of £81,703 and monthly equivalent rate of 6.74%

Remortgage to another equity release plan in the future

If interest rates reduce in the future, you may have the option to remortgage your current plan to secure a lower rate.

Paying a lower interest rate can reduce the total cost of releasing equity. However, a future reduction in interest rates isn’t guaranteed
It’s also important to remember that an early repayment charge (ERC) may be payable if you choose to remortgage your equity release plan. 
However, all our plans come with fixed ERCs, meaning they expire after a certain amount of time. Your Key equity release adviser can explain this in more detail to you.

Consider a drawdown plan

With a drawdown lifetime mortgage, you only take out the money you need when you need it. This can help reduce your total cost of borrowing, as interest is only charged on the money you release, rather than the full amount available. The interest rate on each drawdown will be at the prevailing rate at the time and could be higher or lower than the interest rate on your initial loan. A drawdown facility is not guaranteed as the lender has the right to withdraw it.

More on lump sum vs drawdown lifetime mortgage

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How much do I pay back on equity release?

There are no mandatory repayments for a lifetime mortgage. Instead, the loan, plus compound interest, is typically repaid through the sale of the property when the last remaining applicant passes away or moves into long-term care.

You only make repayments if you want to. Key lifetime mortgages allow you to make repayments of up to 10-12% each year with no early repayment charges to help reduce the amount owed.

We always recommend you make early repayments if you're able to, as it's one of the main ways you can reduce the total cost of releasing equity. We'll discuss each option in more detail in the following sections.

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Am I eligible for equity release?

If you're thinking about releasing equity from your home, it's important to find out if you could be eligible.

You can check your eligibility and get an estimate of how much you could release by using our free online calculator.

To take out a lifetime mortgage with Key, you must be a UK homeowner:

  • Aged 55+ (including all joint applicants)
  • With a property worth £70,000+
ⓘ Did you know...

If you're not eligible now, why not try our later life mortgage finder? It may be that we can still help you take control of your later life finances.


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Why choose Key as your equity release adviser?

It's a regulatory requirement for anyone considering equity release to get specialist advice before taking out a lifetime mortgage. So why should you choose Key as your equity release company?

We're regulated experts

Key is regulated and a proud member of the Equity Release Council

Trusted award-winners

We've won 80+ awards and 17,000+ excellent Trustpilot reviews, making us the UK's most trusted equity-release specialist


Highly experienced

We have over 25 years' experience in helping more than a million over-55s with tailored equity release advice on later-life products. Our knowledge means that, once we've taken the time to understand your needs, we’ll have a sound idea of what the right plan is for you.

Customer stories


ⓘ Did you know...

Over the years, more than a million customers have benefitted from our expert advice, experience and professionalism. We've been rated 'Excellent' on Trustpilot and you can check out the great things our customers have to say about our equity release plans.

John's story

69, Retired

“I sat down with the adviser and he went through every single detail and concerns, plus a lot more which I didn’t know about. They took care of everything… it’s so uncomplicated… the process is so easy.”

Read more on John's experience

Watch more of our customer stories

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Things to consider

  • The loan, plus compound interest, is typically repaid through the sale of the property when the last remaining applicant passes away or moves into long-term care

  • £1,299 advice fee only payable on completion

How to release equity from your home

Use our free calculator

Find out how much cash you could release tax-free from your home with our lifetime mortgage calculator

Speak to an adviser

Book an appointment with a specialist equity release adviser at a time that's good for you

Free expert guide

Get a copy of our free, comprehensive guide to lifetime mortgages. You’ll learn how they work, have your questions answered and help you put the life in later life

Your other options

Here are some alternatives that may be more suitable for you:

Equity release costs

Here are some guides to help you understand equity release costs:

ⓘ If another product is more suitable, we'll refer you to a different adviser within Key Group who can help. If you go ahead, you'll only be charged the same £1,299 advice fee you'd pay with us, even if their fee is usually higher.

If you’d like to discuss your options further or get some help deciding whether equity release is for you, speak to one of our experts. They'll go through the plans available and help to find one that suits you. Call us on 0808 2529170. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am - 5.30pm. 

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Page last updated: Friday 22 September 2023