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Coronavirus: your Equity Release questions answered

Jul 22, 2020, 11:49 AM
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Coronavirus is having a huge impact on all our lives. We’re continuing to work hard to offer you the best service we can, while adapting to our circumstances and looking after our people and customers. Please see our business update article for more details.

We’ve also put together some FAQs for you, please watch this space as we will update this regularly. Thank you for your continued patience and understanding in these exceptional circumstances.

How should I contact you?

We are dealing with pre-sales enquiries by email and our telephone lines remain temporarily closed. Why not see if you can self-service your query first?  

If you have registered for Aviva for Advisers, you can easily manage your customers’ existingequity release policies in one place to:

  • Keep track of your clients’ transactions. See the amounts borrowed and owed, any voluntary payments that have been made, any early repayment charges, and how much is available in their cash reserve, if applicable.
  • See all your clients’ policy information in one place, including statements.

If you still need to contact us, please use the email contact points below:

How do I register for Aviva for Advisers?

Click on the register link located in the top right-hand corner of your screen, give us your details and we’ll arrange access.

If you have forgotten your password, click on the login button at the top of your screen, select the forgotten password option and we will send a temporary password to your email account.

What is Aviva’s position on valuations?

Updated 21st July

For some time now we have successfully been running our Dual Valuations service with e.surv (our surveying partner) across the United Kingdom (except for the instances of a localised lockdown).

Our approach is designed to give maximum flexibility to you and our mutual customers providing physical valuations where it is safe to do so. Remote valuations will remain available where acceptance and lending criteria allows.

In the eventuality of the Government ordering a localised lockdown, e.surv may need to suspend all physical property inspections. Aviva will continue to accept physical valuation applications and e.surv are able to receive instructions for these which will be placed ‘on hold’ in readiness for the restriction to be lifted.

We will notify you of any physical inspections being placed ‘on hold’ and will confirm once they recommence. Should the customer wish to proceed with a remote valuation please provide us with a Personal Quote Summary and we will cancel the physical valuation inspection and instruct a remote valuation.

  • Physical valuations and physical revaluations are based on our full Lending Criteria
  • Remote valuations are based on our remote valuation Lending Criteria and 10% reduction of the estimated property value for all initial and additional borrowing

Further details of what to expect from e.surv before and during property inspections can be found here.

Localised Lockdowns - Leicester

Updated 21st July

We are pleased to confirm e.surv will recommence physical valuations in all Leicester postcodes from 24th July following latest Government and council advice. You can find more information here

What are the new costs of remote valuations?

Updated 17th June

The cost of all initial loan and additional borrowing valuation fees will be included in the interest rate of the quote for estimated property values of up to and including £5 million.  A separate valuation fee will be payable on estimated property valuations from above £5m.

Why is the remote valuation criteria different to physical valuations?

The scope of the valuation is limited without a physical inspection. We will therefore only lend against 90% of the property value provided by the remote valuation, when we calculate the maximum loan and any reserve amount we can lend to the customer. For flats, we will apply 90% of the property value before applying our normal 85% flat rate. Our quotes have been updated automatically to reduce the full property value to these percentages.

An example based on a male aged 75 with a £500k property living in York:

Pre-property value reduction: maximum loan under LFO: £185k, maximum reserve £92.5k (maximum reserve will reduce if initial loan is more than £92.5k)

Post-property value reduction: maximum loan under LFO: £166.5k, maximum reserve £83.25k (maximum reserve will reduce if initial loan is more than £83.25k)

Our full remote valuation criteria can be found here

We can’t validate any information we receive before the application form is returned. This means there may be instances where we give a quote which we subsequently cannot honour.

When requesting quotes from us, please ensure that you have reviewed our lending criteria and determined as far as is reasonably possible that your client’s property meets our remote valuation criteria. This should help us reduce declined applications and save you time and effort

Are you changing your offer guarantee period?

We are maintaining our standard BAU offer rate guarantees and expiry dates, which are already some of the longest in the market. These are 14 weeks for an initial loan offer and 8 weeks for an additional borrowing offer, from the date that the application is submitted. The introduction of signature-free applications and remote valuations will also help speed up the application process.

Information on remote valuations

When is a remote valuation allowed?

Updated 24th June

Initial borrowing

We can instruct remote valuations in England, Scotland and Wales (for properties in the United Kingdom we will offer a physical valuation where it is safe to do so in relation to the customer’s circumstances and the duty of care to the surveyor).

We are unable to instruct remote valuations in Northern Ireland. A link to our full Remote Valuation Lending Criteria can be found here.

Additional borrowing

We can instruct remote valuations in England, Scotland and Wales (for properties in the United Kingdom we will offer a physical valuation where it is safe to do so in relation to the customer’s circumstances and the duty of care to the surveyor).

We continue to be unable to lend using a remote valuation on policies with prefix CF, CL, CI, CD & LL 

We have some restrictions for when a remote valuation is not suitable for additional borrowing on our Lifestyle Lump Sum Max and Lifestyle Flexible Option products:

  • Initial loans that completed on a remote valuation will require additional borrowing to be completed with a physical valuation
  • If the previous additional borrowing was taken using a remote valuation, then the next application for additional borrowing must be a physical valuation
  • Cases where the last additional borrowing was taken on a remote valuation basis can be instructed on a physical revaluation, providing we have a full physical valuation on file

If following the surveyors’ risk assessment, a physical valuation is unsuitable we may consider a remote valuation depending on the circumstances.

Moving property

If a client wishes to port their mortgage, we will request a physical valuation where it is safe to do so in relation to the customer’s circumstances and the duty of care to the surveyor, however where this is not possible a remote valuation will be allowed subject to meeting our remote valuation lending criteria.

Why are you restricting the property value for remote valuations?

The limits of £750,000 outside the M25 and £1m inside have been imposed by our external valuers. They cannot use the remote valuation method beyond these limits as their professional indemnity insurers will not cover valuation reports above this level, where no physical inspection of the property has been carried out.

If the valuers are instructed on a property with a customer estimated value within the limits, but in the valuer’s professional opinion the value is higher, then a valuation report cannot be submitted.

What happens if I want to challenge the remote valuation?

Whilst we are offering remote valuations, we won’t be able to accept challenges to a valuation figure, re-examine cases which have been declined or reassess a decision which has already been made.

Information on physical valuations

We are pleased to confirm physical instructions are available for properties in the United Kingdom where it is safe to do so, in relation to the customer's circumstances and the duty of care to the surveyor.

Updated 17th June

Are there any changes to the Physical Valuation Lending Criteria?

There are no changes to our previous Lending Criteria. A link to our Lending Criteria can be found here

When is a physical valuation not allowed?

Physical valuations will be in line with the latest government and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors advice E. surv will not be able to instruct a physical valuation if any of the following apply:

  1. The customer or anyone living in the property is self-isolating due to COVID-19.
  2. If E.surv identify that someone in the property could be or is in the high-risk category or is shielding in accordance with the current guidelines, then they will not be able to continue the inspection and will have to reschedule an appointment.
  3. If the customers property is in a location where Physical Valuations are not permitted.
  4. The customer is uncomfortable for a valuation to be undertaken at this time.

The Surveyor may halt the inspection if they feel there is any risk, on completion of a risk assessment, when they arrive at the property.

What is E.surv’s criteria for a Physical Inspection

Please find a link to E.surv’s Property Inspections Safety and Wellbeing Charter which covers what a customer can expect to happen here.

What changes have been made to your application form? 

Supporting signature free

Where health and lifestyle information is given, we no longer need a customer signature on our application forms.

We have made changes to incorporate the consent for Aviva to collect and use a customer’s health information in the borrower’s declaration. This means a customer can give verbal consent to you when you complete a signature-free application.

How do I use signature-free applications with my customers?

New business and additional borrowing applications are available on Aviva for Advisers for you to use with new customers.  Advisers are still required to sign to confirm the declaration has been accepted by your client.

With each application you will need to:

  • Read the borrower declaration to the borrower (or to each borrower if it is a joint application).
  • Gain verbal consent that the borrower(s) agree to the statements contained within the declaration and to Aviva processing their application.
  • Sign the application form (digital signatures are accepted) to confirm you have followed this process and obtained verbal consent from the customer to proceed.
  • Provide a copy of the Power of Attorney document (where one exists). 

Unfortunately, if these steps have not been followed the application form will have to be returned and you will be required to submit a completed application to us.

Changes to the declaration

With a signature-free application, we need to know who has received financial advice and who has given verbal consent to the borrower declaration. The changes we have made to the declaration ask you to confirm who you have read the borrower declaration to the customer/s or a Power of Attorney.

If the applicant is a Power of Attorney, you will need to send a copy of the Power of Attorney document. This helps prevent delays within the legal conveyancing process and means we can notify you of any additional requirements upfront.

Removal of GP checks

We have removed the customer consent to obtain a GP report (AMRA). These are both interim measures to reduce the strain on GP surgeries and remove the requirement for a customer’s signature consent to use their health data during the COVID-19 period. We will continue to closely monitor lifetime mortgage applications we receive during this period.

Additional property questions

Updated 17th June

We have added a few additional property questions to both our initial loan and additional borrowing application forms, relating to roof, rainwater goods, damp, spray foam, cracking to external and internal walls, ceilings or concrete floors, and structural movement. The answers to these questions will support our underwriting decision and are required on both physical and remote valuations.

Our most up to date version of our application form should be used in all instances and is available on Aviva for Advisers.

What is Aviva’s stance on pipeline business where it has been based on a remote valuation?

Updated 17th June

Quotes / KFI’s issued

You can proceed on a remote valuation basis. However, you can also obtain a quote on a physical valuation should you wish to proceed on this basis.

A link to our lending criteria can be found here

Applications where an offer has been issued on a remote valuation basis

These cases will continue to completion within the guaranteed period unless we are informed otherwise.  If you wish us to re-offer on a physical valuation basis, please let us know by emailing

  • LPEQREN@aviva.com for initial borrowing
  • ERAB@aviva.com for additional borrowing

We will require a new Personal Quote Summary / KFI before we are able to instruct a physical valuation. For both initial and additional borrowing offers currently within their guarantee period, where the customer paid a remote valuation fee upfront, a re-offer can be requested based on a physical valuation. However, we will require a new Personal Quote Summary / KFI before we are able to instruct the physical valuation.  We will include the physical valuation fee within the interest rate but will not refund the remote valuation fee as this will be an optional change to your original application.

Any offers where the guarantee expires, but the remote valuation is still valid will be re-offered on a remote valuation basis, with the remote valuation fee included within the interest rate. In this scenario where a remote valuation has been paid upfront, we will refund it, as there is no change to the application and valuation fees are now reflected in the interest rates offered.

Any offers where the guarantee expires and the remote valuation is still valid, but a physical valuation is requested instead, we will require a new Personal Quote Summary/KFI before we are able to instruct the physical valuation. We will include the physical valuation fee within the interest rate but will not refund the remote valuation fee as this will be an optional change to your original application.

Remote valuation applications that have been rejected

Where we have issued a decline letter previously as the application was not suitable for a remote valuation you can reapply for a physical valuation by sending in a new Personal Quote Summary.

I have submitted a remote valuation application, which is declined, what will happen?

Where an application has been received for a remote valuation and is subsequently declined, we will provide you a Personal Quote Summary or Key Facts Illustration on a physical valuation basis and ask you if you wish to proceed on this basis.

The valuation fees will be reflected in the interest rates offered.

If the customer has paid a valuation fee and the valuation has not been instructed this will be refunded.

Where we can give you an indication if the application is suitable for a physical valuation we will do so. A link to our physical valuation Lending Criteria can be found here. 

I have submitted a physical valuation, which is declined, what will happen?

If an application has been declined following a physical valuation, it will not be suitable for a remote valuation and will therefore regrettably be declined.

Will the customer have to pay another valuation fee?

We will not ask customers to pay a separate valuation fee unless the estimated property value is over £5 million. The valuation fee cost will be included in the interest rate for property values up to and including £5 million. 

General

What is our stance on essential repairs?

Following the Government announcement to relax restrictions, physical valuations have recommenced and where the valuer identifies essential repairs, these will be reported on the valuation report. We will follow our current process for underwriting essential repairs, which is to contact you to discuss the repairs required and your client’s willingness to have these completed. We do understand that these are uncertain times due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the impact this  may have an impact on your client’s current ability to carry out the repairs. We will therefore use our discretion, on a case by case basis, regarding the timescales to complete.

Offers on remote valuations may be subject to a full physical valuation of the property at later date. We won’t charge the customer for this or change the customer’s initial loan amount. However, we do reserve the right to suspend or reduce any cash reserve arrangement.

Our position on this continues to be included in a side letter as part of the offer. This is to ensure the customer is aware of our obligation to value the property at a later date and inform them building insurance cover must be in place and maintained.

What are the changes to solicitors’ processes and how is Aviva responding?

The Equity Release Council has agreed to temporarily revise Rule 8 of the Rules and Guidance (“the Rules”) to enable cases to complete without a physical face-to-face meeting with a solicitor.

This is a short-term amendment to the rules and will only apply during HM Government’s requirement to “Stay at Home”. Once this has been lifted, the Equity Release Council will give a further update.

The Council is setting out remote process telephone or video facilities and additional steps to ensure customers are given the necessary legal advice. The physical witnessing of the mortgage deed being signed remains a requirement under UK law and needs to be carried out by an independent witness arranged by the client, under social distancing rules.

The solicitor will, alongside remote legal advice, conduct additional due diligence to ensure the witness is valid.

This amendment is only applicable during the lockdown restrictions. Rules will be revised once these have been lifted. Further guidance can be found here.

The amendment means Eversheds, the solicitor acting on behalf of Aviva, will be able to satisfy Aviva’s legal requirements and complete lifetime mortgages. Once restrictions on movement have been lifted, the aim is to return to the full face-to-face legal process, using the original Solicitor’s Certificate, with immediate effect.

PF011497 03/2020

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