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How can I help my children buy their first house?

For first-time buyers in this day and age, getting a mortgage can be tough. For some, the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ is able to step in. But, if parents do help their children to get a foot on the property ladder, how does it all work?
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Young couple taking keys of their new house from broker.

Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage or any other debt secured on it.

Can I buy a house for my child?

Yes, you can if you wish to. In the UK, property prices have risen quickly and salaries haven’t caught up, so getting a mortgage can be very hard for a first-time buyer. Plus, large deposits are needed.

For this reason, it’s become fairly common for parents to buy their children a house. Or, if they’re not buying it outright, many parents help their children with the deposit that’s needed to get a mortgage.

Should you help your children buy a house?

Only you can answer this question. You’ll need to think about:

  • Your financial situation

  • Your relationship with your children

  • Your approach to parenting

  • Your reasons for helping

  • How you’d like to help.

If you decide to go ahead and lend a helping hand, you’ll need to be sure that you’re going about it in the right way. You’ll need to think about protecting your own interests, as well as your children's.

Why might your children need help?

Getting on the property ladder for the first time is harder and more expensive than ever. Living costs are high and salaries are low, which can make saving for a house a long and challenging process.

How much deposit is needed to buy a first home?

Often, first-time buyers will need a minimum deposit of 10% of the purchase price. They could need a lot more. Many first-time buyers find it difficult to secure an affordable mortgage deal with which to purchase their new home. This is especially true if they have a small deposit.

However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new government-backed mortgage scheme has been set up for lenders. It will help people with five per cent deposits to get onto the housing ladder. Through the scheme, lenders are given the option of a government guarantee on 95% mortgages. It means many first-time buyers will have an affordable route to buy a home for up to £600,000.

Even scraping together a 5% deposit can be hard. For a £200,000 house they would need a £10,000 deposit. Many people find it difficult to save up this amount, so a lot of first-time buyers get some kind of help with their purchase. This often comes from the Bank of Mum and Dad.

However, it can still be possible for your children to buy their first home if you can’t help them. Our guide explains how to get a mortgage with little or no deposit.

Compare first-time buyer mortgage here.

Is a gifted deposit the best way to help?

The easiest way to help is to give your child enough money for a good-sized deposit as a gift, if you have the means to. In the current mortgage market, that could be anything from 5-25% of the value of the property. A 10% deposit or more will open the door to a broader choice of mortgage deals for them.

This is called a ‘gifted deposit’. You wouldn’t have any stake in your child’s house, and it’s not a loan. 

There are no immediate tax implications for giving a gifted deposit currently. However, any gift you do give could be subject to inheritance tax if you pass away within seven years of giving it to them.

Inheritance Tax: The Basics.

Gifting money to your children: FAQs.

How to give your child a gifted deposit

Most mortgage lenders are happy to allow gifted deposits from family members.

However, if you are gifting a deposit to your child, it’s likely that you’ll have to provide a Gifted Deposit Letter and supporting documents. These should confirm:

  • Your name and their name 

  • Photo ID and proof of address

  • How much you’re gifting

  • Where the funds are currently 

  • Your relationship to the mortgage applicant

  • A statement that it’s a gift

  • A statement that you won’t have any financial or commercial stake in the property

  • A statement that if the money’s loaned, it won’t have to be repaid until the property is sold

  • Proof that you’re in a financial position to provide the gift. This could be, for example, bank statements showing the source of the money, or regular deposits if they’ve been saving for a long time. Or it could be a Will if it’s a result of inheritance. This is to comply with anti-money laundering checks.

It will have to be signed by a witness, too.

Your child may also need to provide a bank statement demonstrating that the gift came from you.

If you don’t want to – or can’t afford to – simply give your child money …

Dishing out large sums of money isn’t for everyone. You might need the money back, or you might just not agree with handing out cash. But there are still ways you can help if you wish to.

  • You can loan them the money and charge interest each month. If you charge interest, it would need to be less than the market rate for the loan to help. Otherwise, they could just borrow from a bank. Think about setting down a repayment schedule at the start. You could even formalise the arrangement via a 'promissory note' which would need to be drawn up by a property solicitor.

  • You can get the money back if and when the property is sold. When you give your children money for a deposit, you can have a 'deed of trust' drawn up by a solicitor. This sets out how much money you’ve contributed and how you’ll get it back if your child sells the property in the future. 

Your children shouldn’t have to pay income tax on the money you give them. However, it may impact their eligibility for some means-tested benefits.

This guide explains how to ensure you get your money back if you lend to family.

What if my child is buying a house with someone else?

If you’re child is buying a house with someone else, and you’re gifting money, you’ll want to protect the money you have gifted. You can do this with a deed of trust (also known as a declaration of trust), which you can have drawn up by a solicitor.

The deed of trust will state who the money was gifted to, so it can specifically state that it was money gifted to your child. That means that if they break up and sell the property, your child will get that money back. Alternatively, if it was given as a loan, it can state that the money must be paid back to you. This is a legal document but, if your child and the other person got married, it could affect the deed of trust.

The deed of trust can also help the people buying the property in terms of specifying who is responsible for what outgoings. It can even clarify what would happen to the property if they were to split.

How do I use my home to raise cash to help my child?

If you don’t have spare cash available, you can use your own property or income to help raise a deposit. You should think carefully about whether this is something you wish to do.

Here are some of the ways you can use your home to raise cash for your child.

Secured loans

You can use your own home to borrow money, in the form of a secured loan. This means using your own home to guarantee the loan.

Finding the right deal and keeping interest payments to a minimum is essential, so shopping around is a must.

Remember, though, that if things go wrong, your home would be at risk. So would your child’s. This isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.

Here’s how homeowner loans work, and what you need to consider before you apply.

Equity release

You can use an equity release scheme called a lifetime mortgage to borrow money against your own home.

This is a way to give your children their inheritance early. You borrow money, on the understanding that it will be repaid after your death, via the sale of your home.

Typically, you can borrow up to 50% of the value of your home (depending on your age and health) and won’t have to make any repayments. Interest is added to the lump sum that must be repaid after your death.

This isn’t a straightforward option so it is important to do your homework and learn about equity release before jumping in.

To understand the features and risks of equity release, talk to a lifetime mortgage company. Ask for a personalised illustration. Check that this type of mortgage will meet your needs if you want to move or sell your home, or if you want your family to inherit it. If you’re in any doubt, seek independent advice. Your home could be repossessed if you don’t keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Read more about what equity release is?

Compare equity release mortgages.

Help without borrowing money

There are also ways you can help your children without taking out a loan.

Your child can borrow more if you allow your income to be taken into account, as well as your child’s. There are several options if you wish to go down this route.

Guarantor mortgages:

You can help your child buy a home without directly lending them money, by acting as a guarantor on their mortgage.

This means that when they agree a mortgage deal, your mortgage is taken into account, which could allow your child to borrow more.

As a guarantor, you’d have to agree to cover any monthly mortgage payments linked to your child's home if they were unable or unwilling to do so.

Should you risk being a guarantor for a mortgage?

Joint mortgages:

You could take out a joint mortgage on the property with your child. This would also make you liable for any payments that your child couldn’t afford.

The difference here is that you’d legally own a share of the property. What share – if any – of the monthly payments you take on could be agreed with your child.

If you do invest in your child’s property as a joint owner, remember to update your Wil.

Should we get a joint mortgage?

Offset mortgages:

Your child could get an offset mortgage. That means you’d have flexibility to pay off some of their mortgage for them, either as a lump sum or via regular payments. You could also withdraw the money you’d paid at a later date if circumstances changed.

Any money you put in would reduce the overall mortgage debt. This means repayments would fall as a result. Of course if you later withdrew any of your money, the overall debt would rise again. This means the monthly payments would increase.

Compare offset mortgage.

‘Mutually exclusive’ mortgage deals:

A ‘mutually exclusive’ mortgage scheme allows you to earn money on your savings while still helping your child to get a mortgage.

You deposit funds in a savings account linked to the mortgage, and this acts as a guarantee against the mortgage debt. This guarantee enables your child to secure a mortgage without needing a large deposit.

The catch is that your savings must remain untouched until a pre-agreed portion of the mortgage debt is paid off.

What are the risks of helping my children to buy their first house?

There are risks in all of these approaches. For instance, if you simply give money to your children, what happens if you need the money at a later date?

Similarly, what happens if you’re a guarantor on your child's mortgage, but find yourself unable to make the mortgage payments if required? Like any mortgage, there’s always a risk that you could lose your home if things go badly wrong.

How can I decide whether to help my child buy their first house?

Before taking any of the routes described here it is important that you:

  • Think carefully about whether you can really afford to help. Don’t just think of your situation now, but look at what your situation is likely to be over the next five to 10 years

  • Get professional advice from a property solicitor

  • Read and understand all terms and conditions before signing up to a mortgage you’re named on

  • Make sure your child gets the best mortgage deal that’s available to them 

  • Contact an independent mortgage broker if you have any questions at all.

Pros and cons of helping your child to buy their first house

It’s undoubtedly a generous act to help your child to buy their first house but, as with anything, it comes with pros and cons.

The pros are:

Pros

  • It’s a way of giving a tax-free gift, as long as you live for seven years after gifting the money. Plus, giving away money now can help reduce the inheritance tax bill your children will face when you do pass away.
  • If your child can put down a bigger deposit because you’ve gifted them money, they’ll have to borrow less money and so their monthly payments will be lower.
  • With a bigger deposit, your child will get a better mortgage deal and will therefore pay less interest.
  • With more money, your child can choose a better property to buy. This could mean that it’s bigger, or in a better area perhaps. Either way, they will probably be able to stay there for longer.

Cons

  • If you’re just loaning the child your money, rather than gifting it, your child won’t have as much choice on mortgages. Some lenders don’t accept lent deposits.
  • Lenders, agents and solicitors will ask for proof of where the funds are coming from. They may also want a Gifted Deposit Letter. So you could have to dig out a lot of bank statements and evidence.
  • There are risks if your child’s buying a home with a friend or partner. If that relationship turns sour, your child could stand to lose some of the money you gifted. Having a deed of trust drawn up by a solicitor should prevent this happening.
  • If you have lots of children, lending to one child can cause jealousy or friction. You may need to consider whether you can help all of your children.
  • There’s a risk you could struggle financially in the future. You should make sure you can definitely afford to help before you go ahead.

Getting on the ladder without financial help from you

If you’re still unsure whether you can afford to lend a hand, or are uncomfortable with the risks, there are other ways your child can buy their first home.

Saving for a deposit is never easy. One way you could help is by offering for your children to live with you while they save up, so they can cut down their outgoings. 

You can also suggest these seven ways to save for a deposit for more tips. There are ways to buy a home without a deposit, like Help to Buy. So even if you find you can’t help your kids, they shouldn’t give up hope.

Could a shared ownership scheme help you buy a house?

Whether you are looking to move up the property ladder, downsize or just relocate we can help you find the right mortgage when you move home.