3 Ways Parents Can Help Grown Kids Own a Home

Marilyn Lewis
By Marilyn Lewis 
Updated
Reviewed by Michelle Blackford
ways-parents-can-help-grown-kids-own-a-home

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When responsible first-time home buyers need help buying a home, the family bank can sometimes lend a hand.

Younger home buyers face a mountain of obstacles, including rising home prices and interest rates, too few homes for sale and unpaid college debt. Student debt is a major source of trouble. When the National Association of Realtors surveyed recent home buyers who had problems saving up a down payment, 53% of those in the youngest group (37 and younger) blamed student loan debt for their difficulty.

Families appear to be pitching in to help, according to the results of that survey in the 2018 NAR Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report. Among home buyers who made a down payment, 23% of those 37 and younger used a gift and 6% a loan from family or friends — the highest proportion for either type of assistance among all age groups.

Family assistance like this works best when the kids qualify for a mortgage on their own and parents make the purchase more affordable with, for example, a bigger down payment or a lower interest rate, says Jeremy Heckman, a certified financial planner with Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina, Minnesota.

First, the ground rules

To create a businesslike distance for these transactions, Heckman suggests that parents:

  • Consider disclosing the assistance to all immediate family

  • Consider treating all siblings equally

  • Use contracts

  • Document gifts

Formal agreements offer important benefits, says San Francisco real estate attorney Andy Sirkin. They define obligations and minimize misunderstandings. And if parent lenders die or become incapacitated, all their heirs can view the transaction and its history.

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