Access to credit via traditional routes is still hard to come by, so more older people are looking to free up cash through equity release schemes. Research from Hodge Equity Release reports that financial advisers have seen a 75 per cent upturn in the number of equity-release enquiries in the last three months. Safe Home Income Plans (SHIP), the trade body that represents 90 per cent of equity-release providers, says the amount of equity the over-55s freed up from their properties rose from £243m in the first quarter of this year to £256m in the second, despite falling property prices.
British buyers are more reluctant than ever to buy property. A survey from HSBC suggests that our lack of willingness to purchase homes has very little to do with the so-called mortgage drought, and everything to do with a lack of confidence in the market. It claims that 98 per cent of homeowners could currently secure an appropriate mortgage, but simply don't wish to do so while property prices are falling. The bank believes that one in 10 Brits aspires to buy their first home or move up the ladder – but have decided to wait for at least six months to see what happens to the housing market.
GO FIGURE... 7
Number of international property hotspots identified by a new report. If you are worried about investing in a falling market, why not look further afield? Aston Lloyd has revealed seven hotspots in a report based on studies from central banks and ministries. It recommends: central Bratislava in Slovakia, where rental returns of over 10 per cent are achievable; business districts in Shanghai and Beijing; Bogaz in Northern Cyprus; Kiev in Ukraine (use a decent solicitor as corruption levels are high); Sofia and Varna in Bulgaria (the country is apparently home to 200,000 millionaires); and Belek and Bodrum in Turkey.
Paula John is editor-in-chief of Your Mortgage