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Question of Finance: I'm elderly, how do I afford home improvements?

QMY WIFE and I are in our 70s and we are in need of some funds to carry out some much-needed home improvements.

We don't want to ask our kids as they -- like a lot of people -- have their own financial issues.

We can't afford to make loan repayments so we are at a loss now as to what, if any, options are available to us.

AAt your age and with no income coming in you won't be eligible for a standard bank loan but there is another potentially- viable option available to you.

Lifetime loans are available to those in retirement who own their own home and allow these people to access a small percentage of the equity build up in their property.

By far the most popular uses are home improvements and clearing off small outstanding debt, which in turn could generate some much-needed disposable income.

To my knowledge there are only two lenders currently in the market -- a specialist called Seniors Money which offers a variable-rate product, and Bank of Ireland which has a fixed-rate product.

It is imperative that you take expert advice before committing to anything to ensure that you understand fully the contract before entering into it.

A lifetime loan will allow you to borrow against the value of your home and retain 100pc ownership of it. The loan does not need to be repaid until you permanently move out, or upon your death.

In some cases home equity release offers a very practical solution. It gives people access to the value they have built up in their home for their own use in their retirement years.

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However, as with any financial product, you need to ensure that it is suitable so take advice from an independent adviser before you commit to anything.

  • Paul Kinane, deputy president, Irish Brokers' Association

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