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Property prices rice twice as fast as pensioner incomes

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The value of UK property has increased at almost twice the pace of UK retirees

Analysis carried out by the Equity Release Council shows that average house prices have grown by 91% or £109,399 in real terms since 1997, from £120,211 to £229,610. In that time the average retirees’ income has risen by 46%, from £13,786 to £20,129.

The trend has reversed in the last five years, with house prices falling 8% (in real terms, allowing for inflation), while pensioner income has grown by 8% in that time. But over a 15 year period, property price growth has hugely outstripped pensioner income growth, underlining just how valuable an asset property is.

Falling income from investments has meant that pensions have become increasingly important as a source of income for UK retirees. While investment returns typically made up 16% of their income 15 years ago, this has fallen away to just 6% in 2012.

At the same time, retirees have been more reliant on private pensions and annuities, which now account for 40% of their income, compared with 37% five years ago and just 32% fifteen years ago. Since the financial crisis, state pensions have also grown in importance and now make up 38% of retirees’ income (compared to 36% five years ago).

Nigel Waterson, chairman of The Equity Release Council, said:

“What we are seeing is a new reality emerging in terms of retirement income as people increasingly look to pensions and annuities, rather than investments, to finance their later years. However, the uncertainty surrounding many funds means that people’s property is very often their biggest and most secure financial asset, with a far greater return on their original investment.

“Particularly if they bought their homes some time ago, many will have a large amount of equity tied up in their property that can relieve the pressure on their retirement income and help with additional expenses. In many cases, equity release can offer retirees an alternative to selling their property – one that preserves their domestic comfort as well as their attachment to the place they call home.

“Whether choosing a lump sum or regular monthly payments, equity release customers can enjoy the relief of an extra source of retirement income, safe in the knowledge they are free to remain in their homes for the rest of their lives, if they choose to, and will never owe more than the property is worth.”

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