Sadly, this type of mortgage won’t help you jet off and buy a pad in Rio de Janeiro. It can, however, be a useful option to provide you with more flexibility in later years.
A RIO mortgage stands for ‘retirement interest-only’. It’s valid for people over 60 who are keen to release some equity from their home. With this type of mortgage, the borrower only makes monthly interest payments until they die or go into long term care, at which point the lender will get their loan repaid by the house being sold.
It allows the homeowner to remortgage their existing loan under similar terms to their current agreement. So if you’re on a pension income, the fact that you’d only have to repay the interest can make it an attractive proposition. If there’s any value left in the house once the property is sold and the mortgage repaid, that would become part of your estate.
RIO mortgages are relatively new on the market. They came about in March 2018 when the FCA relaxed their rules and separated them from equity release, by re-classifying them as standard mortgages rather than lifetime mortgages.
The FCA wanted to make ‘affordable borrowing’ more widely available to an older population as long as they had a steady income.Take up of the new mortgage was initially slow but it has been growing in popularity. It’s simpler than equity release, offers an attractive alternative to downsizing and also means the interest isn’t racking up.
Despite being called RIO or interest-only, some lenders are also offering an option where the borrower can repay part of the capital as well, which means they can leave more of an inheritance to their loved ones. Other providers are offering set repayment dates.
When are RIO mortgages suitable?
A RIO mortgage can be worth considering if you are reaching the end of a standard interest-only mortgage in retirement and are concerned about how to repay the loan due to a shortfall in your savings. Rather than having to consider a house sale or expensive loan repayments, it offers flexibility and stability.
This type of mortgage also provides an effective way of managing intergenerational wealth as it can enable you to help younger members of the family buy their first home. In addition, it can act as a means of reducing any inheritance tax burden.
Points to consider
On the plus side, the monthly repayments on a RIO mortgage are likely to be cheaper than with alternative repayment mortgages. It also provides a way you can stay in your own home without the worry of repaying the capital sum during your retirement.
However, you will have to pass an affordability check to show you can afford the interest-only repayments. Bear in mind that it may be difficult to subsequently change mortgage provider or move house. You would also not be protected from short-term dips in the housing market.
It’s important to make a will and let your beneficiaries know about the mortgage so they will be aware of the reduction in the proceeds of your estate on death.