Many millennials have been hit with hard economic times. The Great Recession, housing crisis, and diminished job options hit many millennials before they could even get established in a career and start to build up the funds necessary to purchase a home.
While the economy is slowly recovering, too many millennials are still unable to afford a home without assistance — and their parents are increasingly stepping up to fill the void. A recent survey by loanDepot shows that 17% of the parents of millennial children (defined here as between ages 18-35) expect to help their children buy a home within the next five years. That's an increase of over 30% compared to the previous five years, when 13% of parents expected to provide home-buying assistance.
Parental assistance ranges from down payment contributions to allowing children to move back into their homes — and there's an unusually large increase in those willing to welcome their children back home.
One-third of respondents said they would allow their children to stay home to save money for a home purchase, up from 11% in the previous five-year period. Meanwhile, another 22% of respondents would allow their children to move back home straightaway, compared to 8% in the previous five-year period. In total, over half of the parents expect their millennial children to either live with them indefinitely or until they can save up enough money for a down payment.
The majority of financial help will be from down-payment contributions. Half of respondents plan to help with down payments, with 8% of respondents paying at least 90% of the down payment. That support is down from the previous five-year period, where 65% of respondents covered some down payment costs and 20% covered at least 90% of the costs.
More parents are willing to pay other expenses so their children can save money for a home (30% as opposed to 25% over the past five years), with 18% focusing on excessive student loan debt burdens (compared to 11% in the past). Around 20% of parents are willing to help with closing costs, and the same percentage of respondents is willing to co-sign a mortgage loan with their children. That is about the same percentage of willing co-signers as in the past.
Where do parents get the money? The overwhelming source is from savings accounts. A little over two-thirds expect to draw from their savings to help their children, slightly down from 72% over the last five years. Meanwhile, twice as many parents as in the past five years expect to use funds from refinancing their own home (up to 8% from 4%), acquiring an unsecured personal loan (up to 8% from 3%), or borrowing from their 401(k) program (up to 4% from 2%).
Millennial children are looking at this help as a responsibility to be repaid. While 68% of the parents consider future assistance as a gift, only 29% of millennials agree. (Of course, if the support is down payment, it has to be acknowledged as a gift in order to qualify for a loan.)
If you are one of these parents helping your millennial children, we applaud your efforts — but please make sure you don't harm your retirement account or other retirement assets in the process. You don’t have as much time to recover from a large financial setback and your children may not be in a position to help you at the right time. Help as you can, but not more than you should.