The equity release market in the UK continues to reach new heights, with the first three months of the year seeing 23,395 new and returning equity release customers.

According to the Equity Release Council, the trade body for the equity release sector, total lending in these months – that is, the amount of property wealth unlocked by these customers – reached £1.53 billion. This is an increase of 14% from the end of last year and 34% compared to the same period last year.

Earlier data from the Equity Release Council found that the average equity release customer withdrew £125,000 from the value of their home in 2021, equivalent to around seven years of an average pensioner’s income. Read more in our article Equity release customers unlock more than seven years of retirement income from their property wealth.

The pandemic saw something of a slump in the equity release market, with new and returning customers hitting only 13,617 at the peak of lockdown restrictions. There were 150,653 overall customers over two years of the pandemic, compared with 171,586 in the preceding two years.

However, these latest figures suggest that the market is in a very healthy condition, particularly with property wealth across the UK at a high. Annual growth in the number of new plans finalised reached 21% between January and March this year, a huge recovery from its -9% rate the previous year.

Of the 23,395 equity release customers, 12,174 were new to the market and 11,221 were existing customers withdrawing funds or seeking advances.

David Burrowes, Chair of the Equity Release Council, said: “The popularity of equity release so far this year is the natural result of modern products offering greater flexibility and a property market where growth has far outstripped inflation, alongside an ageing population.

“After two years where customer numbers have been subdued by the pandemic, realising gains from rising house prices can make a major difference to people’s quality of life.

“Innovation has made equity release products more adaptable to customers’ changing circumstances. Our standards mean lifetime mortgages remain the most secure type of retirement home finance, with customers protected from interest rate rises, repossession and passing on debt due to negative equity.”

Read more about the Equity Release Council’s standards in our article New Equity Release Council safeguard could help customers save millions.

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Interested in equity release?

If you’re interested in equity release or have questions then Rest Less provides plenty of resources to help you get started. Our guides Is equity release right for me? and Equity release – what is it and how does it work? cover the basics, and you can visit our equity release section for even more information. It’s important to remember that equity release definitely won’t be right for everyone, and it will not only reduce the value of any inheritance you might have planned to leave, but it could also affect your entitlement to means-tested benefits. Find out more in our article Equity release – what are the risks?

If you want to see how much you might be able to release from your home and how much it could cost, this equity release calculator can give you an estimate. Fill in a few details to get an estimate.