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Sharp rise in equity release sales

The number of plans also increased year on year by 6% to 4057 (Q1 2012) from 3838 (Q1 2011).

A fall in the number and value of plans sold between Q4 and Q1 was recorded as festive season holidays and consumer desire to start the year as frugally as possible hits sales.

This year has been no different and there was a fall of 8% on the last quarter in terms of value of plans (£215.9million – Q4 2011) and volume of plans (4399 – Q4 2011).

This steady annual increase in the size of the market shows that consumers are more confident and more aware of equity release as a way of boosting their finances.

The proportion of customers choosing to access their equity in smaller tranches has increased over the past quarter.

Drawdown mortgages now account for 67% (Q1 2012) of the market, followed by lump sum mortgages (32%) and home reversions (2%).

This increase in popularity of drawdown mortgages over the last quarter (62% – Q4 2011), to the highest level since Q3 2008 (72%), is likely to be the result of more people choosing to use equity release to supplement a monthly income, rather than pay for one-off expenditure.

The proportion of equity release plans sold through intermediaries remained level with last quarter at 90% (Q1 2012), at a value of £179.5million, and compared with direct sales of £19.6million (10%). This remains at the highest level since SHIP started tracking this data (Q1 2003) and continues to reflect the importance of intermediaries in the market.

Andrea Rozario, Director General of SHIP said: "These figures are extremely encouraging and show that the market is continuing to grow steadily, year on year.  Furthermore, the increase in the number of customers electing to drawdown their housing wealth in stages reflects the growing awareness for the different uses of housing equity – such as supplementing an existing income.

"This year is a significant and exciting one for SHIP, as we expand our membership to include members from across the equity release industry.  This will allow us to provide an even more comprehensive look at equity release sales figures in the future through the expansion of data available from new members.

"These figures show that there is a growing appetite amongst consumers for equity release products, and by bringing together organisations from across the industry we will ensure that we are well placed to meet this demand."

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