Equity Release

What is an enhanced lifetime mortgage?

Over 55s could benefit from an enhanced lifetime mortgage. The hybrid version of a lifetime mortgage considers your health, often leading to an increased LTV ratio. However, it might not always be the right option. Therefore, you should carefully consider your options and understand what the mortgage type offers.

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What is an enhanced lifetime mortgage?
  • A lifetime mortgage is a popular equity release option for those over 55
  • An enhanced lifetime mortgage could suit those with health issues
  • Your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio can be higher with an enhanced lifetime mortgage
  • A financial advisor can help you understand the pros and cons of an enhanced lifetime mortgage

Enhanced lifetime mortgages - FAQs

  • Who can get a lifetime mortgage?

    Lifetime mortgages are typically available to homeowners aged 55 or over. A lifetime mortgage allows you to release cash from your property. Lifetime mortgages are a type of equity release and can be an excellent alternative to a traditional mortgage.

  • What are the downsides to an enhanced lifetime mortgage?

    If you take an enhanced lifetime mortgage, you risk leaving little or no inheritance. If you want to leave your property behind, then enhanced lifetime mortgages are not worth it. These mortgage schemes sometimes also have higher interest rates. Therefore, it's essential to consider the pros and cons of an enhanced lifetime mortgage before opting in.

  • What is the difference between a lifetime mortgage and equity release?

    There are two main types of equity release and a lifetime mortgage is one of those. The other popular equity release product is a home reversion plan. Equity release allows homeowners to keep using their homes while obtaining an income from its value.

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An enhanced lifetime mortgage is a hybrid of the popular lifetime mortgage facility, available to those over 55. The traditional lifetime mortgage is an opportunity to release equity in your property without regular monthly repayments. An enhanced lifetime mortgage considers your health, potentially leading to an increased loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. There are many factors to consider, so it is important to take financial advice.

What is a lifetime mortgage?

A lifetime mortgage offers the chance to release equity in your property with no regular repayments. The interest on a lifetime mortgage is rolled up and repaid at the end of the term, together with the initial capital. The duration of a lifetime mortgage is open-ended; upon the homeowner's death, or when they move into full-time care, the property is sold. At that point, the mortgage company would receive a capital repayment and accrued rolled-up interest. Anything left goes directly to the homeowner or their estate.

What is an enhanced lifetime mortgage?

The LTV ratio for a traditional lifetime mortgage tends to be between 25% and 50%. However, some companies will offer a higher figure via an enhanced lifetime mortgage. You will often see enhanced lifetime mortgages referred to as "impaired lifetime mortgages". Applicants with health issues may have the opportunity to increase the traditional lifetime mortgage LTV ratio, thereby raising more capital. Why?

With a traditional lifetime mortgage, the term of the repayment is open-ended. So, if somebody was to take out a lifetime mortgage aged 55, in theory, the mortgage could last more than 40 years. This means the mortgage company's capital is tied up for a significant period. Where the applicant has health issues, this would likely mean a relatively short mortgage term. A shorter term will attract a reduced rolled-up interest charge and reduced uncertainty or risk over the property's value, therefore offering the ability to increase the level of equity release. 

What are the main factors affecting an enhanced lifetime mortgage?

There are numerous factors to consider when applying for an enhanced lifetime mortgage. Different mortgage providers will have specific requirements, but some of the more common considerations include:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI)
  • Smoking habits
  • Blood pressure
  • Medical history, including heart problems, strokes, etc
  • Conditions such as Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis and Dementia
  • Diabetes
  • Prescription medication
  • Retirement due to ill-health
  • Cancer diagnosis and treatment

An applicant whose health is impacted by any of the above factors will likely be able to apply for an enhanced lifetime mortgage.

What is the difference between a remortgage and a lifetime mortgage?

If you want to choose between remortgaging and a lifetime mortgage, you should be aware of the differences. A traditional mortgage is slightly different to a lifetime mortgage. The main difference is that an enhanced lifetime mortgage has interest rolled up, meaning there are no regular repayments. Therefore, it can be more affordable.

Here are the crucial differences between a remortgage and a lifetime mortgage.

Interest payments

A traditional remortgage will tend to be repayment (capital and interest) or interest only. A lifetime mortgage does not require any monthly repayments. Instead, interest is rolled up and paid at the end of the lifetime mortgage together with the capital.

Term of agreement

Traditional remortgages have a defined term at the outset, while a lifetime mortgage is "open-ended". Only when the homeowner dies or moves into full-time care can the property be sold, and the lifetime mortgage capital plus rolled-up interest repaid.

Interest rates

Interest rates for lifetime mortgages tend to be higher than those for traditional remortgages. This is because of the open-ended nature of the arrangement and greater competition in the traditional remortgage market. However, this may change in future as life expectancy continues to rise and possibly leads to increased demand for lifetime mortgages.

Is there an age limit for enhanced lifetime mortgages?

The minimum age limit for an enhanced lifetime mortgage tends to be around 55. When applying for a joint enhanced lifetime mortgage, lenders consider the age of the youngest applicant. The older you are when you apply, the greater the amount you can borrow as a percentage of the value of your property. In theory, there is no upper age limit regarding enhanced lifetime mortgages - Nationwide Building Society will accept applicants as old as 95!

Can you pay back a lifetime mortgage early?

For many people, the main reason for taking out a lifetime mortgage is that there are no monthly repayments. That said, many arrangements offer the opportunity to repay interest or capital on an ad hoc or regular basis. This will reduce the final repayment figure when the mortgage is repaid and leave an increased level of equity for the homeowner or their estate.

How long does it take to get an enhanced lifetime mortgage?

Assuming there are no complications with the property title, an enhanced lifetime mortgage should take anywhere between 4 to 6 weeks to complete. This compares favourably to traditional mortgages and remortgages. The risk factors associated with an enhanced lifetime mortgage are well defined by the mortgage companies, allowing a relatively swift response.

What is an enhanced lifetime mortgage drawdown facility?

An enhanced lifetime mortgage should, in theory, lead to an improved LTV ratio over a traditional lifetime mortgage. While many applicants choose to take these funds in one lump sum, this is by no means set in stone. You may wish to take a lump sum at the outset and draw down payments as and when required in future. It is worth noting that elements of the enhanced lifetime mortgage drawn down later will only attract interest from the drawdown date. This can offer a valuable means of budgeting and saving on interest charges.

Could I fall into negative equity with an enhanced lifetime mortgage?

An enhanced lifetime mortgage is structured to create significant headroom between total financial liabilities and the property's value. If the property slips into negative equity, the enhanced lifetime mortgage provider would need to cover the cost of any shortfall. This is why the LTV ratio tends to be relatively low, allowing room for property price movements, rolled-up interest charges, and capital repayment.

Understanding enhanced lifetime mortgages

The shorter your life expectancy, the higher the potential LTV ratio with an enhanced lifetime mortgage. This is because of the reduced rate of rolled-up interest and risk factors associated with traditional open-ended lifetime mortgages. It is important to take financial advice when looking to take out an enhanced lifetime mortgage so you are fully aware of the pros and cons.

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