National Information Centre on Retirement Investments (NICRI)
In February 2009, the National Information Centre on Retirement Investments (NICRI) launched a telephone service providing independent information on equity release products such as reverse mortgages. Within four months its Equity Release Reverse Mortgage Information Service (ERRMIS) had answered more than 3000 calls. Some have been from consumers who have a reverse mortgage with lenders that have left the market. Some customers have been refused mortgage top-ups, which means they have to look at switching to another lender and paying set-up costs such as fees for loan establishment, valuation and independent legal advice a second time.
In the worst case, customers are locked into a fixed-interest rate product, as leaving the lender would mean incurring a break fee of tens of thousands of dollars (see Broken by the break fee). Volatile interest rates in the past year have highlighted the potential risks of fixing the rate.