In this guide, we explain the different ways you can help your child take their first step on to the property ladder. Check out our 90-second video below for the basics, before taking a look at our ten top tips for parents looking to help first-time buyers.
Video: how you can help your child buy a home
Mortgage options for parents who want to help first-time buyers
High house prices, tough affordability checks and the need to save a large deposit can make it hard for first-time buyers to get a mortgage and buy their first flat or house.
If you want to help your child buy a home but don't have enough savings to simply give or lend them the cash, there are several options you can consider.
With guarantor mortgages, the amount your child can borrow is based on your income and assets, as well as theirs.
You’d be guaranteeing to meet any repayments that your child failed to pay, which could be risky, especially if you still have a mortgage on your own home.
Find out more: our full guide explains how guarantor mortgages work, and offers information on alternatives, including family offset mortgages, family deposit mortgages, flexible family mortgages and 100% mortgages
A joint mortgage - such as the First Start Mortgage offered by Post Office Money - considers both your and your child’s income, as well as any money outstanding on your own mortgage.
Both you and your child will be named on the mortgage agreement and on the deeds, providing you with some power over any future transactions. But you would also be liable for keeping up the mortgage repayments and might face a hefty stamp duty bill.
Find out more: learn about the pros and cons in the full guide from Which? Mortgage Advisers on joint mortgages
If you have a mortgage on your own property, one option is to free up some cash by remortgaging. This would involve arranging a new mortgage with your existing provider or transferring to another lender.
Your mortgage term could be increased to absorb the additional borrowing, your repayments could rise, or both.
A further advance from your existing lender is another form of loan you could get that would be secured on your home.
Before remortgaging it’s important to consider the impact that increased borrowing would have on your own standard of living and your retirement plans.
Find out more: you can learn more by checking out the Which? Mortgage Advisers remortgaging guides
The Bank of Mum and Dad and inheritance tax
If you're going to give money to your child, you'll need to understand the taxation rules around gifting - as parents handing out large lump sums could face a hefty inheritance tax (IHT) bill.
You're allowed to give away up to £3,000 a year without it counting towards IHT - and you can backdate this by a year too, so in theory a couple could give away £12,000 in a tax year if they haven't gifted anything the previous year. Separate individual gifts of up to £250 are also allowed.
On top of this, it's possible in some cases to draw on unused income to make regular gifts if doing so doesn't affect your standard of living.
Outside of these exclusions, your child might need to pay inheritance tax on any gifts given to them if you die with seven years - though this depends on their cumulative value. To find out more, read our full guide on inheritance tax planning and tax-free gifts.
Bank of Mum and Dad: 10 tips for parents helping first-time buyers
If you decide to help your child buy a home, it’s likely you'll want to maintain an element of control, if only to ensure your money isn’t wasted.
Here are 10 tips for parents who want to help their child buy their first property without causing any conflict or severe financial difficulties.
1. Do your research
If you can't afford to buy a house or flat outright, it's likely you'll want to help your child find the best-possible mortgage deal.
- Which? Mortgage Advisers looks at every available mortgage from every available lender and will give your child impartial advice on the best type of mortgage for their individual circumstances. You - or they - can call the team on 0808 252 7987 for free.
2. Consider buying the property jointly
If you do buy an official share in the property, don’t forget to update your will to reflect what you’d like to happen to it upon your death. Our will-writing guide explains how to validate, store and update your will.
3. Understand your tax liabilities
If you are named on the deeds, you may still be liable for certain taxes associated with the property. Read our guides to tax on property and inheritance tax for information on your potential tax liabilities.
4. Be clear about how things will work
You need to make your child aware of whether you are making a gift, a loan (with or without interest) or an investment. It might be an awkward conversation, but it will make things much easier in the long run.
If your child feels embarrassed or guilty about accepting money from you, this could make them less likely to tell you if they’re worried about meeting their monthly repayments. Encourage an open dialogue and tell them that they can always come to you if they get into difficulties.
6. Make it legal
Get a legally binding agreement drawn up by a solicitor. To safeguard a loan or investment, make sure it stipulates the nature of any arrangement.
7. Formalise things with the Land Registry
Even with a legal agreement in place, your child could potentially sell the property without your consent. If you're concerned about this and want to avoid it happening, complete Land Registry form RX1.
8. Discuss home improvements
If you’re buying jointly, make sure you talk about the home improvements you think the property could benefit from – your ideas might be very different from your child’s, so it’s worth having this conversation early on.
If your name isn’t on the deeds, respect your child’s decision to alter their home as they wish.
9. Be honest
It's essential to be honest about your financial circumstances. Don’t exaggerate your income to secure a larger mortgage.
10. Consider future rate rises
Don’t put yourself in a financially risky predicament by overextending yourself, and don’t assume that mortgage interest rates will remain at the same level.
Correct as of date of publication.