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Your Parents Want To Help You Buy a House? Ensure This Dream Come True Doesn’t Turn Into a Nightmare

Photo Illustration by Realtor.com. Source: Getty Images

Wow—your parents want to help bankroll your first house!

Maybe you won’t have to save for a down payment or face mortgage payments for the next 30 years. Sounds fantastic, right?

Yes and no. We all know that no matter how close you are with your family, sometimes relationships can get complicated—especially if you add money to the mix.

What if your parents don’t like your version of a dream home (or plan to turn your home office into their personal guest room)? Accepting a generous gift will naturally come with some strings attached, but there is still a way to set boundaries.

Here’s how to gratefully accept financial aid while maintaining a good relationship before, during, and after you buy a home.

How parents help their kids

Many parents happily hand over cash to assist their children with buying their first home. And their kids are usually glad to take it.

According to a 2020 survey by Loan Depot, 65% of parents were willing to offer financial assistance to help their adult child buy a new home. And 77% of millennials and Gen Z expect financial assistance from their parents, whether it’s helping with the down payment or closing costs or co-signing a mortgage.

But some parents might feel entitled to a heftier dose of influence the larger the financial gift.

“This includes decisions around your home’s location, the type of home you want, and the parameters for their visits,” says KathyDan Moore, owner of KDM Counseling Group in St. Petersburg, FL.

And because of these potential issues, it’s important to proceed with caution from the outset.

Start off on the right foot

When power dynamics shift—like when money is lent or received—a once-settled relationship can become awkward and messy.

So, how can families maintain harmonious relationships? Clear communication.

“Both parties can avoid most issues if they agree to talk openly and honestly throughout the process beforehand,” says William Schroeder, co-founder of Just Mind Counseling in Austin, TX. “If you fail to do that because you’re averse to conflict or discomfort, you will eventually walk through a proverbial minefield.”

What if your parents love a house, but you don’t?

Your folks see you in a Colonial home, and you may feel the need to please them (even though you favor a barndominium). After all, without their money, you’d still have to share a claustrophobic apartment with your passive-aggressive roommate.

But instead of ignoring your desires, Schroeder suggests sharing your feelings. He shares an example of such a conversation:

“Hey, Mom/Dad, remember how I said I didn’t want a big yard because I travel weekly for work and can’t do lawn maintenance? The house we saw that you flipped for today had too much property. I want to ensure I can enjoy this gift from you for years to come. I also want to protect our investment by not getting in over my head and hurting the curb appeal with my absence. Can we refocus our search tomorrow?”

You can replace the yard scenario with whatever issue you’re not on board with, followed by being honest about exactly why you don’t want that particular house or home feature.

Disarm your parents with ‘compliment cookies’

Let’s say your parents are fond of frequent pop-ins (at inconvenient times) after you and your partner become new homeowners. And instead of looking forward to their visits, you feel apprehension about setting boundaries. This is an excellent opportunity to try what Schroeder calls the “compliment cookie” approach.

You begin by saying something positive and warm about your parents’ intentions, followed by your resistance or challenge, and end with another positive reaffirmation.

“Loosely speaking, it’s compliment-critique-compliment,” explains Schroeder.

Here’s how to use this technique when parents think it’s OK to show up frequently or unannounced.

“You know we love a good visit with you. But our workload has been crazy, and we haven’t had much couple time for each other. Realistically, we only have Saturdays to spend together before prepping for the work week. So could you plan your visit when we can have a more relaxed visit with quality one-on-one time?”

“A compliment cookie works by disarming others while remaining optimistic and kind,” says Schroeder.

Keep nosy parents out of your finances

Once your parents hand over cash to help you buy a home, they’re invested in your financial wellbeing. But what if they take the role of micromanaging money adviser who questions and judges your spending habits?

If you’re unable to pay your monthly bills, your folks have a valid concern. On the other hand, if your parents are constantly questioning the money you’re spending on everyday items or an occasional weekend getaway, you might want to stop sharing certain details with them.

“While I’m not encouraging you to lie or be deceitful, some respectful modesty can’t hurt in situations like this,” says Schroeder. “Look for the path of least resistance.”

Pick your battles

Being true to yourself and setting boundaries help keep relationships healthy.

“There is a reason we have fences in our yards,” says Schroeder.

But your parents helping you buy a house is a life-changing event, so don’t forget to show them how grateful you are.

Maybe you can take your dad’s advice and use a few heirloom pieces of furniture in your decor. Or let your mom do some DIY projects around the house. Once you’ve set boundaries, letting your folks into your home life should make your new home life homier.

The post Your Parents Want To Help You Buy a House? Ensure This Dream Come True Doesn’t Turn Into a Nightmare appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

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