0 Help the Family up the Housing Ladder By The Bower Team / In Family The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has just reported that residential property sales have doubled in number since the market downturn six years ago. As a result, due apparently very much to a shortage of houses available for sale, prices are rising in most regions. The trend towards higher prices is likely to continue during 2014 with the politicians being reluctant to do anything about it given that there must be an election in the following year. A number of commentators are forecasting average price rises of between 4% and 8% this year and a recent survey on house prices from the Office for National Statistics showed that the rate of annual house price growth stood at 5.4% last November. It seems that property will once again resume its position as being many people’s preferred investment or pension pot as well as their home. This is fine for those of us lucky enough to be homeowners. However it is not such good news for those seeking either to get onto or to step up the housing ladder. Although the Help to Buy scheme is driving up demand and making houses attainable for some potential homeowners, finding the deposit and/or indeed funding the associated mortgage will remain beyond the means of many people. In this situation Equity Release can come to the rescue for an increasing number of families. The International Longevity Centre in recent research has highlighted how significant funding from grandparents has become to their offspring. Indeed by 2010, over £647m was given away to grandchildren and this figure is likely be growing strongly as it becomes increasingly important for them to purchase homes before they become even more expensive and potentially unaffordable. Equity Release represents an excellent means of passing money down the generations as the grandparents probably have no or only a modest existing mortgage. Hence funds can be raised via regulated Lifetime Mortgages and Home Reversion Plans to pay off any remaining secured loans and to provide financial assistance to younger family members. If a roll up Lifetime Mortgage is selected, the cost will most likely be affordable because no capital or interest payments are normally required during the lifetime duration of the plans. Furthermore, the Equity Release sector can be the best source of interest only mortgage for those of retirement age because no capital repayments are usually required for life. Special offers are available from a specialist independent financial adviser firm like Bower who give independent advice on all Lifetime Mortgages. The interest rate can also be fixed for life so there is no risk from rising rates in the future. Many people at or in retirement are using Equity Release to support their children and grandchildren sooner rather than later so that they can see them enjoy the money during their own lifetimes.