Equity Release Gains Momentum


Surge Of Drawdown Activity As Equity Release Gains Momentum

Drawdown accounts for seven in ten new plans agreed as lending breaks quarterly, half-year and annual records
Total H2 lending up 21% year-on-year; Q4 sees strongest annual growth of 2015 (22%)
More than 22,500 new plans agreed for the first time since 2008
Market has doubled in size since 2011 and exceeds its pre-recession peak by 33%
Value of home reversions in H2 was the most in any half-year period for four years

Homeowners over the age of 55 unlocked a record amount of housing wealth via drawdown lifetime mortgages in the final quarter of 2015, pushing annual equity release lending to a new high of £1.61bn according to year-end results from the Equity Release Council (The Council).

Lending via drawdown products totalled £271m between October and December 2015, the largest quarterly total since this type of lifetime mortgage first emerged in 2004. Seven in ten (70%) new plans agreed in Q4 2015 were drawdown, up from 63% in Q3 2015, as more customers opted to withdraw their housing wealth in stages to boost their retirement income as and when they need it.

Drawdown lending for the whole of 2015 was also the highest on record at £961m. It pushed total equity release lending activity by members of The Council¹ to an unprecedented £1.61bn: up 16% from £1.38bn in 2014. Last year saw more than 22,500 new plans agreed for the first time since 2008.

The market’s second half performance was even stronger, with total lending of £898m in H2 2015 up 21% from the previous half-year record of £741m in H2 2014. Both drawdown and lump sum products saw H2 lending grow 21% year-on-year, with drawdown passing £500m (£538m) for the first time in any half-year period. The value of home reversion plans – £4.5m – was the most in any half-year period for four years (since H2 2011)
At 22%, the year-on-year lending growth rate in Q4 2015 was the largest of any quarter last year, despite a slight dip in quarterly lending from £453m in Q3 to £445m.

Since falling to a post-recession low of £789m in 2011, annual equity release lending has more than doubled in the last four years and now exceeds its pre-recession peak (£1.21bn in 2007) by 33%. Over the whole of 2015, drawdown lifetime mortgages accounted for two in three (66%) new plans agreed, while lump sum lifetime mortgages made up 34% and home reversions below 1%.

The results come as The Council prepares to mark the 25th anniversary of the first industry Standards being developed for equity release in 1991. As part of The Council’s Statement of Principles and associated Rules and Guidance, these continue to support best practice in providing equity release advice and products, so customers are fully informed, supported in their choices and able to access secure finance in later life with built-in guarantees and protections.

Since publishing a set of policy recommendations for Government in October 2015, The Council has made further recommendations to the Treasury and the FCA to help develop the market and meet growing consumer demand for using housing wealth in retirement planning.

The Council is also set to announce new initiatives for equity release advisers in Q1 2016 as part of its work to promote best practice across the sector.

Nigel Waterson, Chairman of the Equity Release Council, commented:

“These year-end figures are the latest sign of growing reliance on housing wealth as a key pillar of later-life financial planning. The rising popularity of drawdown has been one of the success stories of the last decade, and product features have since appeared allowing customers to protect a percentage of their equity as an inheritance, make part-repayments of capital or make interest repayments on their loan.

“Looking ahead, the challenge is to continue developing products which meet consumer needs while ensuring that innovation is combined with protection and long-term sustainability. The work led by The Council and its members to uphold standards for equity release products and advice has been fundamental to creating a safe market for consumers, and we will continue these efforts to meet growing customer demand alongside regulators and the Government. The Council enters its 25th year with huge confidence in the future of equity release.

“Housing wealth is often people’s greatest asset and it makes sense for equity release to be on every homeowner’s checklist to consider as part of their retirement and estate planning. At the same time, it is not suitable for every circumstance, which is why professional financial advice and independent legal advice are essential so that customers understand how the products work, and what they can offer. Supporting advisers as the market grows will be a top priority in the year ahead.”

Another source of low-cost financing for Florida property investment!


Expanding Orlando Villa Guaranteed Rental

Leading Florida Property Company Re-Organizes to Focus on Expanding Orlando Villa Guaranteed Rental Business

PR from Property4Media

THE BRITISH HOMES GROUP is a 30-year old team of inter-related specialist companies dedicated to serving the needs of UK residents owning villas and other investment properties in the Walt Disney area of Central Florida.


George Bernard Shaw, of Pygmalion/My Fair Lady fame, once observed that England and America are two countries separated by a common language!

And no-where is this more true that in UK/US property transactions where Closings are Completions; Appraisals are Valuations; Sheet-Rock is Plaster-Board …….…. and no-one is quite sure what an Escrow is!

And that’s where the bi-linqual THE BRITISH HOMES GROUP team comes in!

THE BRITISH HOMES GROUP’s current Team Leader is Bill Cowie.

Bill was born in New York and educated in England.

After graduating with a honours degree in American Studies from the University of Sussex Bill moved back to New York to join the Advertising industry on Madison Avenue. As Group Vice President at The Compton Advertising Agency (now Satchi & Satchi) Bill managed the agency’s Procter & Gamble business in both the US and Canada.

Bill then formed the Mid-Atlantic East Group (in reality in Delaware but in spirit somewhere between England and America) to apply the sophisticated business procedures of “Corporate America” to assisting US companies doing business and England and British Companies doing business in America.

Past and present clients include Disney, Hilton, Sheraton, Marriott, GE, Abbey National, Wimpey Homes, The Rank Organization and the US Government’s Resolution Trust Organization.

For the past 30 years, due to steadily growing trans-Atlantic travel, tourism and international property investment industry demand The Group now focususes its services in meeting the meeting the often unque requirement of UK holiday home and Buy To Let investment properties in Florida


BRITISH HOME SALES, the Group’s Orlando-based Estate Agency, is a licensed Florida real estate sales company.

BRITISH HOME SALES therefore has access to the industry’s Multiple Listing Service (“MLS”) which maintains current information on over 20,000 residential properties for sale in the Walt Disney area of Central Florida.

BRITISH HOME SALES’ access to Central Florida’s Multiple Listing Service also means that the Group’s international clientele only need ONE AGENT (hopefully BRITISH HOME SALES!) to gain access to all information on all properties for sale in the area.

Properties include Single-Family homes, Multi-Family buildings and Condominiums, Holiday Ownership resorts and Buy To Let investment properties.


BRITISH HOME LOANS, the Group’s mortgage arm, concentrates on monitoring the complex US mortgage market to help ensure that BHG customers receive the lowest “Foreign National” interest rates and most favorable loan terms possible on their Florida property loans.

For perspective, BRITISH HOME LOANS, in collaboration with Lloyds Bank International in the UK, developed the first Multi-Currency Mortgage specifically developed mortgage for UK property investors in Florida.

Although Multi-Currency Mortgages are not longer available in Florida BRITISH HOME LOANS continues to monitor US lending terms to help ensure that UK villa owners still receive the keenest rates and terms available.

Request more information on homes for sale around Orlando or submit a Custom Property Search Request



Offices in Kissimmee and Davenport

Info@britishhomesgroup.com or (+1) 407 396 9914

Florida Mortgage Update

Florida Mortgages for UK Buyers Is on its way Back!

As the US economy and the Central Florida residential property market slowly
but steadily rebound so too are some American lenders re-entering
the “Foreign National” (e.g. for UK home buyers) mortgage market in Florida.

The US home lending market is still extremely “tight” but we have now established financing relations with a few select Florida lenders for our UK clientele.

These new and attractive financing terms have been negotiated for our Florida home-buying clients  only.

Rules and restrictions still apply.

The following, however, are among the most important:

1. the property must be in the Orlando and be a detached second or holiday home.

2. a 30% deposit is required with a minimum loan of $100,000 (and a minimum purchase price, therefore, of at least $143,000).

3. the mortgage term is 30 years – and the first 5-year interest rate can be fixed.

4. there are no Pre-Payment Penalties (Early Redemption Fees)

5. villa buyer must have no other US loans.

Good-bye (most) “Cash Only” home sales.

Hello, once again, (many) UK villa investors in the Disney-area of Central Florida!

Happy (Orlando) House Hunting!

Ask us a mortgage question.


We’re back at last!



Please email or call us for more information on buying or selling a home in Orange, Lake, Osceola or Lake County.

Request more information or submit a Custom Property Search Request

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2960 Vineland Road | Info@britishhomesgroup.com or (+1) 407 396 9914

Florida Villa Financing Available

Mortgages For Floridda Homes – from 30% Down Payment

A recent survey of the many thousands of British Homes Group Florida Property newsletter readers around the world has answered a question that has been growing for us over the past few weeks:

Why are some UK investors, unlike the rapidly growing number of Canadians, Indians and Brazilians, still sitting on the fence and not taking advantage of the truly incredible property values now on offer in Florida?

The answer: Many prospective Florida property investors are unaware that mortgage financing is now available to UK and other “Foreign National” villa buyers!

Several prestigious Florida new home builders, in response to the requirement to become even more competitive in these challenging economic times, are now offering their own “developer (versus bank) financing” – usually requiring a most reasonable 30% deposit.

Additionally, if you can afford a 50% down-payment on a Florida home of $400,000 or more (no upper limit), we can arrange a multi-currency mortgage (from a respected UK Bank) which allows you to repay your home loan in a variety of currencies – including UK pounds and Euros.

Bill’s Bit

So don’t let “lack of financing” stand in the way of your villa bargain hunting in Florida!

Prices will probably never be this low again.

So why not contact us, in confidence, and see what we can do to help you fulfill your Florida dream!

Request more information on Florida homes or submit a Custom Property Search Request

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2960 Vineland Road | Info@britishhomesgroup.com or (+1) 407 396 9914

Florida Mortgages Underwater?

If you or any of your friends or family members are “under water” here in Florida, that is, your Florida property is currently worth less than the mortgage on it, please let us know – we may be able to help!

From Today’s Orlando Sentinel:

Mortgage meltdown

With Orlando No. 3 in nation in underwater mortgages, homeowners ponder leaving.

Mark and Susan Stone are weighing a decision being echoed across Central Florida: Should we stay in a home worth less than the mortgage – or walk away?

Orlando now leads Florida and most of the nation for underwater mortgages, according to a report released last week by CoreLogic Inc. Only Las Vegas and Phoenix surpass it. The California-based researchers determined that 55 percent, or 285,004, of the area’s mortgaged homes are worth less than their outstanding mortgage.

Industry experts describe the properties as being a “shadow inventory” of bank-repossessed properties and mortgages facing foreclosure.

Central Florida’s home-loan burdens come as no surprise in a metro area where housing stock has lost half its value in three years. Not only did buyers who purchased during the peak get stuck with upside-down mortgages, so did homeowners who refinanced based on values before the housing bubble burst starting in mid-2007.

That has led to more people walking away from their homes. But that decision comes with risks. The homeowner’s credit can be marred, and it could raise thorny ethical questions.

The terms “short sale,” “negative equity” and “strategic default” weren’t part of the Stones’ vocabulary a few years ago. Now, the Wall Streetish terms have become the creaking rafters of their lives.

“That was my dream kitchen. But it’s just a kitchen,” said Susan Stone, who lives in the home with her husband and two sons, ages 7 and 3. “Both kids were there since they were born. It’s all they’ve ever known. … We just want an affordable payment, or they [the bank] can have the house. It will sit vacant for who knows how long.”

Last week, the scales seemed to tip slightly toward struggling owners sticking it out in their homes. Existing-home sales prices for Orlando were up for the third straight month, with a median of $115,000, and foreclosure filings were down by a quarter from the previous month and the previous year.

It wasn’t all good news, though. Though the legal foreclosure filings for homeowners just entering the process had fallen, the pipeline of houses in the latter phases of foreclosure – when banks have taken over properties – had swollen for the fifth straight month.

“The fundamental issue still facing the fragile housing market is that backup of underwater mortgages,” said Daren Blomquist, spokesman for RealtyTrac, which researches foreclosure activity. “In our minds, those are definitely much more susceptible to foreclosure.”

The path leading to the Stones’ possible abandonment of their longtime canal-front home in the Isle of Catalina community in south Orlando took several sharp turns in recent years.

Mark Stone, 42, bought the home 12 years ago for $93,000. Then, about two years later, he took equity out of the appreciating house to open a bar and grill, but the 2004 hurricanes closed the adjacent hotel for six months, and the bar and grill was a casualty. The Stones then took out more equity to launch a vending business, which also failed.

The couple rallied, sometimes working back-to-back jobs, and refinanced their debt in 2006, but their adjustable-rate mortgage soon climbed to $1,850 a month. Even when Deutsche Bank agreed to modify the payments to $1,250 a month, they were slapped with higher premiums for flood insurance.

The payments became insurmountable, even when they cut their cable and necessities such as prescription medications. Finally, in January, their lender denied them any chance at a permanent mortgage modification.

Bottom line: They owe about $208,000, and the midcentury, three-bedroom house is listed for sale at $229,000, which would cover the debt plus real-estate costs. But even with the boat dock and granite counters, the house is unlikely to fetch that price because similar houses in the neighborhood have sold for about $160,000.

“Basically you have to look at it like a business would,” said Susan Stone, 37, a longtime corrections officer. A corporation would not continue to continue pay top dollar for an asset that had lost half its value, she added.

She has her list of pros and cons of walking away.

The case for walking away: She said the house is likely worth about $40,000 less than they owe on it. If they stayed, they would have to face some big-ticket expenses, such as a new roof. After the lender denied them a mortgage modification in January, they stopped making payments, and she estimated they could soon save $10,000 for a down payment on another house.

The case for staying: She said they would lose more than $30,000 they sank into the house for mold remediation and repairs after the 2004 hurricanes. And, most importantly, their credit would be damaged. But Stone noted that the house is in her husband’s name and her credit is intact, allowing her to buy their next house.

Rocky Stubbs, vice president of Homeownership Preservation for JP Morgan Chase, said homeowners need to explore their options before they undertake what he called a noncontested foreclosure. Homeowners who just walk away are still responsible for paying the debt, the lender’s legal bills, unpaid taxes and insurance.

“You start to traverse the ethical obligations of someone trying to keep, to the best of their ability, the terms of the contract,” said Stubbs, who oversees the lender’s Florida market, including two offices in Orlando. “But at the end of the day, there are cases when it’s ultimately unaffordable.”

Homeowners could pursue a short sale, in which the lender agrees to sell the property for less than the mortgage. The owner may still have to pay the debt, but that’s often negotiable. Another option is a deed in lieu of foreclosure. That alternative can relinquish borrowers from debt and allow them to avoid the public notoriety of a foreclosure.

Both of those options save lenders the time and expense of repossessing a house. Another course allows borrowers to lease their house from the lender, at market rates, after they surrendered the deed to the lender.

Mentally, Stone said, she’s ready to move on. She said they could purchase a house with lower monthly payments, higher-rated schools, fewer maintenance costs and closer to family in east Orlando. She said her family would miss living on the canal that feeds Clear Lake.

But what’s the point of living on the water, she asked, when you can’t afford any of the toys to enjoy it?

Please let us know if we or any of our Advisory Panel can assist you with any legal, sales, financial or other Florida property related advice.

We have, as you may know, a highly active Orlando-based Estate Agency specialising is assisting UK home owners in Florida.


Bill Cowie  President


Kissimmee Office: 407 396 9914

Distressed Florida Property – 20% Deposit


20% Deposit for International Buyers
20% Deposit for International Buyers

Bank owned move-in condition! IMMEDIATE OCCUPANCY! Ready to move in. Spacious two story with bonus room (ideal for office). All bedrooms on 2nd floor, nice master suite with walk-in closet, large master bath with garden tub and double vanities, gourmet kitchen with all appliances, lots of cabinetry and counterspace, separate tiled breakfast area overlooking backyard. Formal living and dining rms, great family room that opens to kitchen, inside laundry room with access door to side yard, double car garage, close to shopping and restaurants.

Enquire About this property: More Information

Request a customized property search

Do you have a British Mortgages Abroad loan on your Florida Property?

Do you have a BMA loan on your Florida Property?

The US dollar, as you probably know, has rapidly risen to a 6-year high against the pound – from $1.80 – $2.00 a few short weeks ago to the low $1.60’s at time of this email.

If you currently have a Sterling mortgage on your Florida home this could be an ideal time to re-finance it into dollars – and potentially reduce your Florida mortgage amount by 10-15%.

The mother of Lee Weaver, our Director of Operations, recently refinanced her UK mortgage, for example, and reduced the outstanding loan on her Florida villa by over $22,000.

from Mrs. Weaver’s note…

Thank you Chris and BHG for looking after my Florida interests all of these years and letting me know that it was a good time to consider changing the mortgage on my Florida home from pounds to dollars. I was fortunate with my home value to be able to include most of the costs in the process and still reduce my original US loan balance by just over $22,000.

A $200,000 mortgage taken out at $1.95 would reduce to $169,231 when converted back at $1.65. That’s over a $30,000 principal reduction.

To see if the time and circumstances are right for you, please give us call, or complete the short form by clicking the link below, for an evaluation of your current mortgage position and refinance options – as always, without obligation or cost.

This window of opportunity may be short and we are expecting a lot of inquiries so please provide as much information on the form as you can



Christine Doran
General Manager