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How Long Does Equity Release Take?

If you are considering taking out equity release, you will probably have lots of questions regarding the process and how long it will take. There is no set timeframe for how long equity release takes from the start of the process to the end, as numerous factors will impact the timeframe.

In this article, we explain all of the steps required to take out equity release and we outline the different factors that will determine how long each stage will take.

We also have a separate article which contains a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about equity release.

To briefly summarise the benefits of equity release; it allows you to access some of the value in your property, without the need to move out of your home. You are often allowed to spend the money how you choose, as long as it is not for illegal means, and there are no monthly payments to make. 


In this article

Getting equity release advice
Completing your equity release application
Property valuation
The formal offer
Legal advice
Requisitions
What can slow down an equity release application?
What can speed up an equity release application?
How long does the full equity release process take?


 

There are also several reasons why equity release might not be as good as an alternative option, such as selling the property and downsizing. Your equity release adviser will discuss this in full detail with you.  

Getting Equity Release Advice

Taking out an equity release product is a great financial option for many people but for others, there may be other options that better suit their needs. This is why it is important that the decision is a well-researched process, using expert advice to ensure it is the best financial solution for you and your family.

As well as understanding the impact it will have on your home ownership and your family’s inheritance, you should also be aware of any other financial implications. For example, any benefits you receive could be impacted by taking out equity release.

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Before you decide whether to apply for equity release, you should book an appointment with an adviser. The appointment(s) will typically take up to 2-4 hours in total, so that the adviser can gather your full financial picture and can recommend the right options based on your specific circumstances.

You may want to have family members with you at the meeting, so that they can understand how the equity release product works and what will happen regarding the product when you die or move into long-term care.

An adviser may have a short initial conversation with you, followed up by a longer appointment or the advice could be provided during just one appointment if you have all the required documents and information to hand. To speed the process up, the adviser should give you a list of required documents prior to the meeting, so you can have them readily prepared. 

The timeframe for this advice meeting stage will generally be dictated by the availability of both parties, some advisers will be able to offer an appointment the same week that you contact them. Busier advisers may only have appointments available in a few weeks’ time.

Completing your equity release application

Once you have had your sessions with an equity release adviser and they have explained the different options and you are happy with a product, the next stage is to complete the application.

The equity release adviser will usually have pre-completed a considerable amount of the form when they collated the information during your advice meetings, so this should save some time.

You will need to check through all the information that they have completed in the application to ensure it is correct before it gets submitted. Inaccurate information could result in your equity release application getting declined, so double-check all the information.

The adviser will require your proof of ID, such as passport or driving licence and proof of address to submit with your application.

Submitting your application

Once you have double-checked all the information provided in the application, it is ready to be submitted. Many equity release providers now offer an online portal where the application can be uploaded to. Other providers may require the application to be posted, which will add a few days onto the total time of taking out equity release.

How quickly the application is then received and reviewed by the provider’s admin team will depend on the company. Some providers will respond to the application within a few hours, while others could take days or even weeks at very busy times.

Once they have reviewed the application and they are satisfied with the information provided, they will require your property to be valued.

Property valuation

The provider will instruct a surveyor to value the property, as the value will be an important factor in their decision of how much equity they are prepared to release. They will also be checking that the property is suitable based on their criteria. Most providers will only accept properties that are in good condition and that they will find easy to sell.

During the valuation, the surveyor will need to access every room in the property to determine the property’s value on the current market. The valuation will usually take about 30 minutes to complete. 

Some lenders adapted their valuation process due to COVID-19 and completed the valuation based on digital photos but now many have reverted back to doing physical valuations.

The surveyor will usually be required to send the valuation through to the lender within 48 hours, some will send it over while they are still at your property.

The formal offer

Following receipt of the valuation, the equity release provider will pass the application to their underwriters. The underwriters will check over the application, the survey report and review credit history to decide whether a formal offer will be issued. 

If they are happy with everything, they will issue the equity release offer, including the amount they are willing to release. The offer will usually be made around 48 hours after the surveyor’s report is received.

Legal advice

One copy of the offer will be sent to you, and another will be sent to your solicitor. Your solicitor will read through the terms and conditions of the offer to check that there are no potential issues. If there are any details that they are concerned about, they will bring it to your attention so you can decide if you still want to go ahead with the equity release product.

It is a requirement to have independent legal advice when you take out an equity release product. Your solicitor will speak to you to discuss the offer, to make sure that you fully understand the legal aspects of taking equity release out against your home.

You will be required to sign the deed, like you would with a standard mortgage and this must be witnessed and signed by the witness. This document will need to be handled physically, so it may take up to a week for this step.

Requisitions

While your solicitor may have questions about the offer, the lender’s solicitor may also have questions, which are called requisitions. If they have any requisitions, this could delay the process while they wait for the replies to the requisitions.

In many cases, there will be no requisitions and it will be what is deemed to be a ‘clean application’, which is more straightforward and will go through quickly. This stage of the equity release process will typically take between 1-2 weeks.

Completion

The completion process is similar to when you buy a property and agree a completion date and the transfer of funds. The financial details will depend on the type of equity release product that you have chosen. You might have agreed to take one large sum upfront, or you may have selected a sum of money followed by further future instalments.

You can choose the method of transferring the funds, such as CHAPS or BACs and the solicitor will arrange for the fund transfer to be paid into your bank. CHAPS will usually go through the same day, while BACs can take up to three days for the money to go into your bank.

What can slow down an equity release application?

There are a number of reasons that your equity release application could get slowed down, such as:

    • Information that has not been disclosed at the advice meeting. If you have provided incorrect or inaccurate information to the equity release adviser and the checks reveal discrepancies, this can cause a delay. Depending on the details, this could even lead to the application being declined.
    • Property down valuations. If you provide an unrealistic property value estimate and then the surveyor values it at significantly less, this could also delay the application.
    • Deceased owners on the title deeds. If your spouse passed away but is still on the mortgage deeds, this will slow the application down.
    • Lease extensions. If a lease is too short for the equity release to proceed then the equity release could be delayed until the extension is arranged.

  • CCJs. In some cases, having a CCJ on the credit file can result in a delay or decline of the application.

What can speed up an equity release application?

There are also several actions that can speed up the equity release application, including:

    • Preparing documents before the advice meeting. By making sure you have the required ID, proof of address and any other documents, there will not be any delays waiting for these documents.
    • Doing your research before speaking to an adviser. If you do plenty of research about the different types of equity release products and the benefits of each one, you will spend less time asking the adviser questions. You should still seek the adviser’s recommendations, but you will have a better understanding of how equity release works and the impact on your family.

  • Contacting your solicitor at the beginning of the process. Some people wait until there is an action required from their solicitor before they get in touch. By contacting them at the start of the process, they will know what you are doing and are more likely to schedule you in faster.

How long does the full equity release process take?

The full process of applying for equity release will usually take less than two months. From the first contact with an equity release adviser, to the completion date, the average time is 6-8 weeks but there are factors that will influence this, as listed in the sections above.

However, the process really starts from when you start to find out more information about equity release and it may also involve having conversations with your family. If you are worried about how equity release will impact your family’s inheritance, it is a good idea to speak to them before you start talking to an equity release adviser. 

By involving them, they will have a full understanding of the process and will also be able to ask any questions they have. Your family will have a better understanding of why this is the most suitable option for your circumstances, rather than leaving them with questions after your death.

Your beneficiary may also be required to sell your property as part of the equity release agreement, in which case they will need to be prepared for this. One of the reasons you might be opting for equity release is so that you can provide them with financial support now, rather than when you die. You can clarify this reasoning and the adviser can explain how this solution can help to reduce inheritance tax.

With expert equity release and legal advice, finding the right equity release product could be the perfect financial product for you. As an experienced equity release broker, Boon Brokers would be happy to talk through your options to find the best equity release product for you and your family.

Unlike most Equity Release brokers, we do not charge any client fees for our services. Contact us to arrange an initial equity release consultation with one of our expert brokers.

Gerard is a co-founder and partner of Boon Brokers. Having studied many areas of financial services at the University of Leeds, and following completion of his CeMAP and CeRER qualifications, Gerard has acquired a vast knowledge of the mortgage, insurance and equity release industry.

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