May 2: Best from the blogosphere

By Sheryl Smolkin

My husband and I helped our daughter buy her first house and a few years ago we bought my son a car. We also partially paid for their education so they were able to graduate debt free. I consider these gifts as an excellent investment because we could afford it and it was our pleasure to share our good fortune with them when they needed it most.

So when I came across Sean Cooper’s blog Why Millennials Should Save Their Down Payment and Not Rely on the Bank of Mom and Dad, I figured I’d better find out what he has to say. Sean believes that parents who cough up all or part of the down payment for a house are generally hurting their offspring instead of helping them. “By showing your millennial child tough love, you’re teaching your kids a valuable lesson: not everything in life is handed to you in a silver platter,” he says.

In an excerpt from his book The Bank of Mom and Dad: Money, Parents, and Grown Children published in the Globe and Mail last year, Derrick Penner says the first question the family should explore is whether the timing is right. For young adults just setting out on a new career, it might be more logical to rent (assuming they’ll also be able to save some money) and kick-start an investment plan that would lead to home ownership later than to buy real estate before they’re really ready.

But if you do decide to give cash to your kids for a down payment, How to help your kids buy a home by Michele Lerner on Bankrate.com has some great tips. First and foremost, she says make sure your own retirement needs are adequately funded before you part with a large lump sum. Also, if you co-sign on a mortgage or loan, understand that you will be liable if your child defaults, so make sure in a worst case scenario you can also afford to make the mortgage payments.

Help your child buy his/her first home, a post on GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca says if you do decide to go ahead, there are three common options: loan your child the money; co-sign your child’s mortgage; or pay some or all of the costs as a gift. Make sure you understand the pros and cons of each option, and how your tax situation and financial plan could be affected.

And finally, an article last year by Adam Mayers in the Toronto Star correctly notes that Emotions can run high when helping the kids buy a house. He says that if family-financing is in the home-buying cards for the younger generation, some issues to consider are: securing any loan via promissory note or against title; the pros and cons of joint ownership; and, how to get your money back. In a mini-poll in the article 68% of those who voted said they would be willing help their kids with a down payment for a home.

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Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere?” Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.

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