Lifetime Mortgages vs. Equity Release: What’s the Difference?

14th January 2024

As homeowners approach retirement age, many are faced with financial decisions that can significantly impact their retirement lifestyle. Two common options for unlocking the equity tied up in their homes are lifetime mortgages and equity release schemes. While these financial products are often used interchangeably, they are distinct in nature, offering different features and advantages. In this blog post, we will delve into the differences between lifetime mortgages and equity releases, helping you make an informed choice that suits your financial needs and goals.

Understanding Lifetime Mortgages

A lifetime mortgage is a type of equity release product designed to allow homeowners to access a portion of the value of their property while still retaining ownership. Let’s take a closer look at the key features of lifetime mortgages:

Loan Type:

Lifetime mortgages are essentially loans secured against your home. However, unlike traditional mortgages, they do not require monthly repayments. Instead, the loan amount, plus interest, is typically repaid when the homeowner passes away or moves into long-term care.

Age Requirement:

Generally, to be eligible for a lifetime mortgage, you must be at least 55 years old. Some lenders may have higher age requirements.

Loan Amount:

The amount you can borrow through a lifetime mortgage depends on factors such as your age, property value, and the lender’s policies. Typically, older homeowners can access a higher percentage of their property’s value.


Lifetime mortgages can have fixed or variable interest rates. The interest accrues over time and is added to the loan balance, compounding throughout the life of the mortgage.


Repayment of the lifetime mortgage, including the accrued interest, occurs when the homeowner either passes away or enters long-term care. At this point, the property is usually sold to settle the debt, with any remaining proceeds going to the homeowner’s estate.

Understanding Equity Release

Equity release is a broader category of financial products that include lifetime mortgages but also encompasses home reversion plans. Let’s focus on the key characteristics of equity release as a whole:

Types of Equity Release:

Equity release includes two main types: lifetime mortgages and home reversion plans. While lifetime mortgages are loans secured against your home, home reversion involves selling a portion or the entirety of your property to a provider in exchange for a lump sum or regular payments.

Age Requirement:

The minimum age for equity release is typically 55 or older, depending on the product. Home reversion plans may have different age requirements.

Ownership and Repayment:

With home reversion, you no longer own the entire property. Instead, you retain the right to live in your home rent-free until you pass away or move into long-term care. The provider receives its share when the property is sold. Lifetime mortgages.

Tax Implications:

The tax treatment of equity release can vary depending on your individual circumstances and the product chosen. It’s advisable to seek professional financial advice to understand the tax implications fully.

Differences Between Lifetime Mortgages and Equity Release

Now that we’ve examined the key features of both lifetime mortgages and equity release, let’s highlight the primary differences:


The most significant difference lies in property ownership. With a lifetime mortgage, you retain ownership of your home, whereas home reversion involves selling a portion or the entirety of your property. This distinction can impact your ability to pass on your property as an inheritance.


Lifetime mortgages do not require monthly repayments, and the loan is typically repaid from the sale of the property after you pass away or move into long-term care. In contrast, home reversion plans do not involve repayment but may result in a lower payout for your estate when the property is sold.


Lifetime mortgages offer more flexibility in how you access funds. You can choose to receive a lump sum, regular payments, or a combination of both. Home reversion plans, on the other hand, provide a lump sum or regular income but do not offer the same level of flexibility.


Lifetime mortgages come with the risk of accruing interest over time, potentially reducing the value of your estate. Home reversion plans have a different risk, as the provider’s share of the property’s future sale price is predetermined.


If leaving an inheritance is a top priority, lifetime mortgages are more suitable, as they allow you to retain ownership and pass on a portion of the property’s value to your heirs. Home reversion plans may result in a lower inheritance, as the provider typically buys a share of your property at a discount.

Which Option Is Right for You?

Choosing between a lifetime mortgage and equity release depends on your individual financial goals, circumstances, and preferences. Here are some factors to consider:

Your Ownership and Inheritance Goals:

If you want to retain full ownership of your home and prioritise leaving an inheritance, a lifetime mortgage may be a better fit. On the other hand, if you are comfortable with giving up ownership in exchange for financial support, home reversion may be an option.

Need for Flexibility:

Consider how you want to access the released funds. Lifetime mortgages offer more flexibility in choosing between lump sum payments, regular income, or a combination of both. If you have specific financial needs, this flexibility can be advantageous.

Financial Advice:

Seek professional financial advice from an independent advisor who specialises in equity release. They can assess your unique circumstances and help you choose the most suitable option.

Tax and Legal Implications:

Be aware of any tax implications associated with your choice, and consult with a tax advisor or solicitor to ensure you fully understand the legal aspects of equity release.

Lifetime mortgages and equity release are important financial tools that can provide homeowners in the UK with much-needed financial flexibility during retirement. Understanding the differences between these options is crucial for making an informed decision that aligns with your goals and preferences. Whether you choose a lifetime mortgage or explore other equity release options, always seek professional guidance and carefully consider the implications for your estate and financial future. Ultimately, the right choice will depend on your unique circumstances and priorities.

A lifetime mortgage will be secured against your home. Our equity release products are limited to lifetime mortgages only and does not include home reversion schemes. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home.

A lifetime mortgage will be secured against your home. Our equity release products are limited to lifetime mortgages only and does not include home reversion schemes. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home.

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