Legal advice for Equity Release has been given the green light by the Equity Release Council (ERC) to happen remotely due to Covid-19. Head of Conveyancing Paul Sams, author of a book on the topic, comments on the latest update.
In the immortal words of Bob Dylan “times they are a changing”. An apt saying for any point in human history. However, to use another phrase: “necessity is the mother of all invention”. The greatest technological advances in human history have been during times of war, and now we are all at war with a common enemy that we cannot see or readily attack.
However rather than be negative about the difficult situation we face, I would rather be optimistic. All of us need to embrace the changes forced upon us. One change I am very excited about is the foresight shown by the Equity Release industry.
Unlike a standard mortgage, an equity release mortgage requires that the solicitor advising the borrower be satisfied that:
- The borrower has not been placed under influence or duress to enter into the transaction
- The borrower has the mental capacity to enter into the transaction
Now, I know it may seem strange that a man with questionable dress sense, and who supports a football team that causes him an immense amount of mental torture should be entrusted to make these judgements on others. Nevertheless, I have written extensively on the topic, lectured across the UK to other lawyers, trained other lawyers, presented countless webinars and spoken for various local law societies and surveyors and IFA’s.
As an expert in my field, I am very pleased to hear the ERC have taken decisive steps to mitigate the specific advice solicitors have to give borrowers when they are obtaining an equity release mortgage. They have relaxed the rules that require a face-to-face meeting between solicitors and borrower, and advice can now be given remotely (for example, through video conferencing).
I have long been an advocate of using technology to save people having to meet in person - why should a client have to trek to my office, or should we have to go to their house? The speed and efficiency or a video call are far more convenient for all, not to mention the environmental benefits of people reducing their journeys, and therefore CO2 emissions.
Equity Release is the fastest growing form of borrowing in the Country, and the lenders alongside the ERC have taken radical steps to ensure it continues to be that way. Whilst other lenders and banks are being ultra-cautious the Equity Release industry are taking an evolutionary approach to digitalise their sector. These are the same lenders who were some of the first to implement digital/virtual valuations at this time to ensure that surveyors remain safe without having to physically inspect the property. They should be applauded for the quick way they have adapted to the current situation.
Here at Dutton Gregory, we have a team of experts ready to assist lenders, IFA’s and borrowers with their Equity Release needs. Our digital technology has been in place for some time, and we are here when you need us.
If you require advice on Equity Release or other property matters, our teams are here to support you via phone, email or video conferencing.
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