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Coronavirus: your Equity Release questions answered

May 21, 2020, 16:33 PM
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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 will Aviva communicate changes to service or process?

We will add all the latest information to our website and where relevant we will contact you directly.

We are continuously monitoring the situation, taking advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and fully adhering to guidance from Public Health England.

What plans does Aviva have in place to manage and maintain our service with advisers?

We have robust business continuity plans in place to ensure we continue operating.

It’s an incredibly busy time and we’re doing our best to handle your queries; however, please bear with us, as you may have to wait a little longer than normal.

How should I contact you?

Since 23 March we have been dealing with pre-sales and new business enquiries by email.as 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’ existing equity 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?

Following the governments recently issued valuation guidance we are currently reviewing options to support both physical and remote valuations.  We continue to work closely with our valuation partner E-Surv to review changes that may be required to our own core processes.

In the meantime we continue to offer Remote Valuations with no changes to our process or pipeline management at this present time. Full details of our Remote valuation briefing of 29th April including our business practices to support social distancing can be found here.

We continue to monitor the UK governments updates, taking advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and fully adhering to guidance from Public Health England to develop our options along with E-Surv.

We will share regular updates on our position and timescales with you as and when these change

How long are you offering remote valuations for?

This is an interim solution in response to the COVID-19 and we will move back to full physical valuations when we are able to do so. This is not likely to happen until social distancing restrictions have changed significantly.

What are the new costs of remote valuations?

We are still offering zero valuation fee quotes during this time. You can find our remote valuation fee scale here.

What if the customer has already paid for a full valuation fee?

Where a customer has paid for a full valuation, and we can proceed with a remote valuation, we will refund the difference between the two valuations to the customer.

Where a customer has paid for a full valuation and the application is declined as the property does not meet our remote valuation lending criteria, we will refund the fee in full to the customer.

What is the criteria to meet a remote valuation?

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!

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, but the fee will be charged.

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.

What happens if the case is not suitable for a remote valuation?

We continue to offer Remote Valuations with no changes to our Remote Valuation process or pipeline management at this present time. 

We have decided not to’ hold’ any applications that do not meet our remote valuation criteria as without this we are unable to issue an offer.

When considering options, we decided on this approach, on the basis that we believe it is unlikely that physical valuations will resume in the foreseeable future and as such, the vast majority if not all applications held during this time, could not be completed within our 14 week rate guarantee period. This approach also provides customers and advisers with certainty of our position, which in some circumstances, may allow terms to be secured elsewhere in the market.

We will of course publicise when full physical valuations are able to be resumed, should your customers wish to reapply. Any application re-submitted will require a new application form and a personal quote summary on prevailing rates at that time.

Which products are you unable to lend on whilst you are carrying out remote valuations?

We are unable to lend on the following products:

Product name

Policy prefix

Fixed Rate Lifetime Mortgage

CF

Index-linked Lifetime Mortgage

CL

Fixed Rate Income Lifetime Mortgage

CI

Cash Reserve Option

CD

Lifestyle Lump Sum

LL

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.

What is your stance on pipeline applications already received?

For any cases where we have issued an offer we will continue to proceed to completion.

We have reviewed all applications in the pipeline that still require a valuation. We will undertake a remote valuation for any application where the property meets our remote valuation lending criteria. For any that do not, we will contact you as soon as possible. We will be open to reviewing these cases at a future date, once full physical valuations are reinstated.

Unfortunately, we are unable to hold any applications that do not meet our remote lending criteria but will let you know when we resume full physical valuations, should you wish to reapply. Any application will require a new application form and attached personal quote summary on prevailing rates at that time.

Upon assessing whether a property is suitable for a remote valuation we have considered the following information:

  • The location of the property.
  • The property value.
  • If the property is a new build.
  • If the property is affected by coastal erosion.
  • If leasehold, that there is an unexpired lease length of at least 100 years.

 

This information is all contained within our application form.

There are other factors which we are unable to check that may mean the property is unsuitable for a remote valuation. These will be checked by the valuer and could result in the property not being suitable for a remote valuation, even though our initial checks suggested otherwise. If these further checks determine the property is unsuitable, we will contact you to explain this.

As we are reducing property valuations by 10% of our standard methodology, some additional borrowing applications may be declined if the calculation reduces borrowing below our £5,000 minimum.

How can a customer make a payment for a remote valuation fee?

Please either email us at LPEQREN@aviva.com to request we contact the customer to obtain the valuation fee payment and include the following information;

  • Policy number (if known)
  • Customer’s full name
  • Customer’s postcode
  • Customers preferred contact details

 

Or alternatively please note this request within the application form and/or accompanying email

What changes are being 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.

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 to support remote valuations

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 whilst a physical inspection is not possible.

What is your stance on pipeline offers where the valuation / re-valuation has expired?

Our valuers will undertake a remote valuation for pipeline cases where the offer has expired, providing the property meets our remote valuation lending criteria. If a property does not meet the criteria, then we may need to decline these cases at expiry. Before declining we will discuss the previous valuation data with our valuers first and decide on a case by case basis if an alternative option exists. Where possible we will look to proactively chase these cases ahead of the valuation expiry date.

Will Aviva be insisting on essential repairs?

If the information from the application form and remote valuation indicates a property may require repairs, but we are still prepared to offer, we will reserve the right to undertake an inspection of the property at a later date.

If, following the inspection, the valuer identifies the state of repair as not as described in the application form, we may instruct the customer to carry out repairs.

In addition, if a customer has set up a cash reserve and we determine that the value of the property is less than the sum of the total amount owed and the cash reserve, we will reduce the cash reserve. Depending on the value of the property we may have to reduce the cash reserve to zero.

For existing pipeline business, where making a repair within 4 months of loan completion was a condition of the offer, we will suspend the 4-month period for the duration where a customer is unable to get repairs completed. We will be writing to our customers to make them aware of this.

Are remote valuations suitable for customers who wish to port their mortgage when moving property?

In accordance with government guidelines, moving property is currently only permitted where a property is empty. We are therefore not expecting many cases to complete during the period where restrictions are in place.

Any new applications will be assessed on a case by case basis; however, it may be necessary for some cases to be placed on hold until we are able to resume full valuations. We are still able to provide customers with indicative quotes which are not guaranteed, based on their assessment of the property value.

Pipeline cases where we have already undertaken a valuation and have issued an offer can proceed to completion, subject to fulfilment of conveyancing.

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.

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.

Will customers be able to continue to request drawdown payments on existing loans? 

Customers can continue to contact us as they do today for drawdowns. However, we are experiencing higher than normal demands and this may result in longer than usual wait times.

PF011497 03/2020

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