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How can you help your children get onto the property ladder?

3 minutes

Is your child looking to take their first step away from the family home? Here’s how you can help and what they need to think about.

  • Many adults are staying in the family home
  • Should parents be charging their grown-up children rent?
  • Parents can help their children prepare financially for moving on
 
From finding and funding the right property to taking out home insurance, how can parents prepare their children for their move out of the family home? Finance journalist Felicity Hannah (@FelicityHannah) talks to parents and experts to find out.

Are you ready to give your adult children a helping hand, or maybe even a bit of a nudge, out of the family home? You won’t be alone. More than a quarter (26%) of 20-34 year-olds live with their parents, rising to almost a third among men. Not that having adult children living at home is necessarily a bad thing.


‘Having lived alone and then again with my eldest daughter (28 at the time) I found there to be many benefits,’ Graham Parker (@GrahamParkerPR), who lives in Sheffield and works in PR, told us. ‘Having adult company that was not always there gave us both freedom to share time and space, while we also had good amounts of both to ourselves.’

And Jenni Hill (@CantSwingACat), who writes the money-saving, house-buying blog Can’t Swing A Cat, tells us: ‘Moving in with parents can make a huge difference to a young adult’s finances and give them the opportunity to pay off debt, build an emergency fund and save for a home. 

‘I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to move back in with my mum and dad at the age of 24 with the intention of buying my first home, and I was finally able to pick up my keys and move into my own place aged 27.’

For parents, it can be emotional when children finally do leave, whether they’re 18 or 28, but it’s also a chance to move onto the next stage of your life and enjoy a bit more space.

 

Hotel Mum and Dad

The number of adult children still living in the family home has been attributed to, among other things, the high cost of housing, people staying in education for longer and people putting off having children until they’re older.

‘If the adult child has never moved out of home, then their presence is simply a continuation of their childhood, which could get sticky once they start bringing girlfriends or boyfriends back,’ observes Geraldine Joaquim (@questhypno), a clinical hypnotherapist and psychotherapist.

‘There are also issues around household chores. What was acceptable for Mum or Dad to do when children were little is not the same with an adult child – laundry, cooking, cleaning and so on.’

Award-winning life coach Kiran Singh (@kiransingh) has helped families make their new dynamic work when an adult child moves back.

‘When an adult child moves back home it’s crucial to be clear on boundaries, expectations and responsibilities,’ she says. ‘Have open conversations and make sure they’re collaborative. Give them the freedom and remember that everyone is a grown-up.

‘Instead of rent, I suggest that the adult child contributes with doing the chores, buying in groceries, and paying certain bills if needed.’

When your relationship stays positive, living at home can be a great buffer for adult life. And as well as helping your child with accommodation, you can also help them when they come to move out.

 

Finding the right home

Paula Higgins, chief executive of the Homeowners Alliance (@HomeOwnersAll), says that whether your child is looking to buy or rent, you can help them with a lot of the legwork if you have more time than them.

‘Talk to local estate agents,’ she recommends. ‘The agent works for the seller, but they don’t get paid if they don’t do a deal, so they’ll be more than willing to help – provided the property is on their books. Swap contact details, ask their advice and keep in touch with them on a regular basis.

‘View as many properties as possible. There’s no harm in viewing a property twice – if your children are unable to make viewings, you could go along first with their checklist of requirements.’

Another concern is home insurance. Your household policy may well have covered them when they were away at uni, but once they move into their own property, they need their own cover.

‘It’s essential that you have building insurance in place by the time you exchange contracts,’ says Paula. ‘After this point, you are legally obliged to buy the property.

‘It’s also important to have the contents element in place as early as possible, just in case any of your belongings get damaged while being moved to the new property.’

 

Managing the money

When an adult child moves out, they probably already have a job and an income, but it is still often a financial leap.

And Iona Bain (@ionayoungmoney), author of Spare Change and the founder of youngmoneyblog.co.uk, says it’s up to parents to help prepare their adult son or daughter for that moment. She recommends charging rent which, if not needed to offset the cost of another adult in the home, can be given to the child when they move out, to help them.

‘If you do give money to children, make sure the terms are clear and understood by all parties. Is it a loan or a gift?

‘Parents can ease their kids into the real world by making sure they take sufficient responsibility, i.e. undertaking key household tasks like shopping, cleaning and cooking.

‘Prior to moving out, your adult children should see your bills so they understand how much you pay and what they can do to keep your costs down (switching bills, paying annually rather than monthly, and so on). Lead by example!’
 
Leaving home can be emotional and exciting, for both the adult children and the parents. It means a step-change in the relationship you’ve all had to date, and there’s a lot to think about. The best way to help may be advice and support rather than money. After that, it’s time to relax and enjoy the extra space and privacy.