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Abstract from

Releasing Housing Equity in Later Life: Markets, Consumers and the Role of the State

Lorna Fox O’Mahony is Professor of Law and Executive Dean Humanities at the University of Essex. 

Louise Overton is a Teaching Fellow in the School of Social Policy at the University of Birmingham.  

The role of equity release transactions in enabling older owners to draw down on their housing wealth to meet needs and wants in later life is a prominent policy trope in many asset-based welfare systems. Framed by the enactment of the Consumer Credit Legislation Amendment (Enhancement) Act 2012 (Cth) – in which the Federal Government established regulatory jurisdiction over reverse mortgage transac- tions – and drawing on empirical research into the uses and risks of housing equity withdrawal mechanisms in Australia,1 this article compares the recent Australian experience of equity release with the longer-established UK equity release market. Reaching across the demographic, socio-economic and policy contexts which are widely regarded as setting the scene for increasing use of housing wealth to fund financial needs after retirement, to the nature and development of equity release markets, this article draws on the UK experience to reflect on patterns of supply and demand, on the needs, circumstances and objectives of the equity release consumer population, and on the role of the state, through law and policy, in mediating the transactional interface between consumers and markets to support the matrix of consumer interests, industry growth and related government policy agendas implicated in the equity release market. 

(2015) 33(2) Law in Context p115

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