“We had been mulling over downsizing for a while but always came back to the same problem; we love our home,” said John Smith, candidly, when we talked to him this summer. “There are so many memories here.”
“We love our home… There are so many memories here."
For the many planning to fund their retirement by selling up and moving to a smaller home, the reality is often not so easy when the time comes to do it. Initially, retired couple John and Kathleen Smith thought that moving from their four-bedroom home in Sutton Coldfield to somewhere smaller and more manageable could be the solution. But they soon decided otherwise.
Now both their sons were grown up and had flown the nest, downsizing was practical. What’s more, moving to a smaller home could have left them with a considerable lump sum, enough to provide the money they needed. What the Smiths weren’t prepared for, however, was the emotional impact of moving.
The financial costs of downsizing
Those thinking of downsizing from the family home are often aware of the financial costs and inconveniences; estate agent, solicitors, removals and surveyor fees, getting the house ready for viewings and then hosting those.
Many also know how difficult it can be to find a new home that not meets all their requirements but is also at a price that allows them to take the lump sum from the sale they want too. But when you’ve spent most of your married life and brought up children in your current home, it can be very difficult to go through the upheaval of leaving it.
Money to carry out home improvements
This was the situation the Smiths found themselves in. “It’s where we raised our twin boys and it’s our family home,” John told us. “In the end, moving wasn’t something we felt we wanted to or could do. So, we started to look into equity release with the view that we could use the money to carry out some home improvements instead.”
John, who enjoyed a successful, more than 40-year long career working in the heavy engineering industry and Kathleen, a doctor’s receptionist, wanted to enjoy their retirement. Before that, however, they wanted to make sure their finances were in place.
Niggling credit card debt
“Although we’d paid off the mortgage, we had some niggling credit card debt and a loan repayment that was constantly adding to our monthly outgoings,” explained John. Keen to clear that debt and get started on their home renovations, John and Kathleen arranged an appointment with a Key adviser.
From there, they got the ball rolling. “The process flowed very smoothly,” said John. “Key delivered on everything it promised. When it came to our home valuation, we were very pleased with how much it had risen. Within 10 years it had jumped from £190,000 to a huge £360,000.”
Borrowing against their home meant John and Kathleen could finally get the work done on their house that they’d wanted to do for years. “We needed new windows throughout and a new porch,” John told us. “The house was losing a lot of heat, so we really wanted to invest in that. We had fresh double glazing installed and the house rendered and coated.“
The result is that not only are our outgoings reduced because the loan and credit card have been paid off, but our utility bills have decreased massively too. We had the house revalued and the work we’ve had done has effectively paid for itself.”
Family, home and community ties are secure
The Smiths now find themselves in an enviable position. Their family, home and community ties are secure, as are their finances. “ It really has been a weight off our minds,” said John. “I’d retired a couple of years before I should have due to the stress of the industry and the effect it was having on my health. The loan and credit card was also a constant burden. Having taken equity release, our monthly outgoings are down by nearly £900.”
And with that wrapped up, it’s time to think about what next. “We’re simply enjoying our retirement more now,” John said. “With our 50th wedding anniversary coming up in two years, we’re looking forward to our future more than ever.”
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Things to consider
Our independent, specialist advisers search the whole market to find the right equity release plan for you. They’ll explain all the options available and that taking a plan reduces the value of your estate and may affect any means-tested benefits you’re eligible for.
You have to get specialist advice before releasing equity; it’s the only way to do it. The initial consultation is free with no obligation to proceed. If you decide to go ahead with an equity release plan our advice fee, usually 1.99% of the amount released, subject to a minimum of £1,499, is payable only on completion.
With a lifetime mortgage, the most popular form of equity release, you’ll still own your home. As with any kind of mortgage, it’s a loan secured against your home. All equity release plans we recommend have a no negative equity guarantee, which means you’ll never owe more than the value of your home.
You should always think carefully before securing a loan against your home.
If you are considering equity release we recommend that you read through Is equity release right for me?