What is the Home Equity Access Scheme?

Exploring your available income options in retirement can help you understand your financial situation. Not every retirement income option will suit your needs. Do some research or contact your financial planner so you don’t miss an opportunity to supplement your Government Age Pension payments and super savings. In this article we’ll look at the Home Equity Access Scheme. This used to be called the Pension Loans Scheme and has been renamed Home Equity Access Scheme from 1 January 2022.1

For homeowners who are eligible, one retirement income option is a government initiative called the Home Equity Access Scheme (HEAS). It allows retirees who meet certain criteria to turn the equity in their homes into an income stream.


The Home Equity Access Scheme 

Put simply, if you own property, the Home Equity Access Scheme allows you to take advantage of the equity in your home by borrowing a loan against the value of your property. You’ll receive that loan as a fortnightly income stream – it isn’t paid to you entirely as a lump sum like other home equity release products. You can choose how much you receive each fortnight – your combined loan and eligible pension payments could be up to 1.5 times your maximum pension rate.

AustralianSuper retirement expert Louise Aracas, says: ‘There’s a range of options to explore when it comes to funding your retirement — the Government Age Pension (GAP), your super savings, and any non-super savings, such as owning a property. To get the best retirement outcome many people need to take advantage of all 3 options in some way. For property owners, the Home Equity Access Scheme is one option to consider, and it means you don’t necessarily need to sell your house to access the equity.’

‘As with any financial product you need to have a plan. Knowing how and when you’ll get in and get out of a scheme or product can often be the key to attaining a beneficial outcome. The Home Equity Access Scheme relies on a several personal variables, so it’s always good to start off speaking to an adviser,’ says Aracas.

 

Eligibility 

To be eligible you need to be receiving or be eligible to receive one of the following pension types:
  • Government Age Pension; OR
  • Carer Payment; OR
  • Disability Support Pension

In addition, you need to:

  • be of Government Age Pension age or older;
  • have appropriate insurance covering that real estate;
  • not be bankrupt or subject to a personal insolvency agreement; and
  • you or your partner need to own real estate in Australia to use as security.

If you own real estate, the Home Equity Access Scheme could be something to consider to boost your retirement income. But it’s a complex scheme, with several criteria that need to be explored in detail in relation to your personal situation. Services Australia now offers 2 calculators/estimators:

For more information, visit the Services Australia website, or speak with a financial adviser.

 

FIND AN ADVISER

 

How it works

You draw an income from the equity in your home over time. You accrue interest on the income as you receive it until you pay off the loan. The income you’ll receive comes from the Australian Government – the same as Government Age Pension payments.

The Government is responsible for setting the interest rate of the Home Equity Access Scheme which currently sits at 3.95% per year1 from 1 January 2022. Compound interest is calculated fortnightly on the amount you’ve been paid to date — not the total amount you’re eligible to receive over time.

If your needs change, you can choose to stop receiving the Home Equity Access Scheme income at any time – you’re not locked in. 

 

Repayments

You don’t have to repay anything until you exit the scheme, which happens if you choose to pay off the loan, or if you pass away.

You can repay the money you receive through a Home Equity Access Scheme loan, either in part or full, whenever you’re ready or able. Any balance owing is taken from the value of your property if you choose to sell it, or when you and your surviving partner pass away. 

Proposed changes from 1 July 2022

To increase the flexibility of the Home Equity Access Scheme, from 1 July 2022, the Government aims to:

  • introduce a No Negative Equity Guarantee for Home Equity Access Scheme loans, and
  • allow Age Pensioners access to a capped advance (up to 26 fortnights worth of top-up payments) in the form of a lump sum payment. The scheme will provide immediate access to lump sum payments of around $12,385 for singles, and $18,670 for couples.

No Negative Equity Guarantee means borrowers under the Home Equity Access Scheme, or their estate, won’t owe more than the market value of their property. This brings the Home Equity Access Scheme in line with private sector reverse mortgages.

AustralianSuper members

If you’re a member of AustralianSuper, you have access to professional financial advice on a fee-for-service basis. You can speak with an advice team member to arrange an appointment, or find an approved adviser.

EXPLORE ADVICE OPTIONS

 

References
1. Services Australia – Home Equity Access Scheme. Interest rate correct at time of publication.

 

The information shown on this website is general information only. We haven’t taken into account your needs or personal objectives when providing the information. You should assess your own financial situation and needs and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision about products on this website. A Target Market Determination (TMD) is a document that outlines the target market a product has been designed for. Find the TMDs at australiansuper.com/tmd. This website is provided by AustralianSuper Pty Ltd ABN 94 006 457 987, AFSL 233788, Trustee of AustralianSuper ABN 65 714 394 898 Superannuation Fund Number (SFN): 2683 519 45, Superannuation Product Identification Number (SPIN): STA0100AU.

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