The Bank of Mum and Dad has handed out an enormous £35 billion over the past five years to help their children onto the property ladder, according to new research.

SunLife’s latest ‘Life Well Spent’ report reveals that 23% of over-50s have given cash lump sums to their loved ones over the past five years to help with various costs. One in five gave their children money to put towards a property deposit. On average, those who helped their children buy a home handed over £29,616, rising to £83,833 in London.

Here, we look at some of your options for gifting or lending money to your children to help them buy a property, and the pros and cons of each.

If you’re looking for expert mortgage advice, you can speak to an independent mortgage broker with Unbiased. Every advisor you find through Unbiased will be FCA-regulated, qualified and unconnected to product providers – so they can offer you truly unbiased advice.

Taking tax-free pension cash

From the age of 55 (rising to 57 from 2028), you can usually access money in your defined contribution pension if you want to, and 25% of this can be taken as a tax-free lump sum. Some parents may decide to use some or all of their tax-free cash to help their children out with a deposit.

However, it’s important to remember that if you do this, you’ll end up with less in your pot to provide for your own retirement. Also, while it may seem a sensible use of your tax-free cash, it’s often not the best way to help your child financially, and it’s vital to consider the inheritance tax (IHT) implications of taking money out of your retirement savings early, as any pensions you have on death can usually be passed on free from IHT.

Find out more about the implications of taking money from your pension in our articles Should I take my tax-free pension cash at 55? and How much tax will I pay when I withdraw my pension?

Pensions can be complicated, so if you’re not sure how to proceed, it’s worth seeking professional advice. If you’re 50 or over and have a defined contribution pension, you can get free guidance on the options available to you from the Government’s Pension Wise service. However, if you want personal recommendations, you’ll need to speak to a financial advisor.

If you’re thinking about getting professional financial advice, you can find a local financial adviser on VouchedFor or Unbiased.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for somewhere to start, we’ve partnered with independent advice firm Fidelius to offer Rest Less members a free initial consultation with a qualified financial advisor. There’s no obligation, however if the adviser feels you’d benefit from paid financial advice, they’ll talk you through how that works and the charges involved.

Fidelius are rated 4.7 out of 5 from over 1,000 reviews on VouchedFor, the review site for financial advisors.

Pros: This may be a simple way to access money to give to your children from age 55, provided you’re aware of the potential impact on your retirement income, and tax implications.

Cons: You’ll have less in your pension to fund your retirement. Pensions aren’t subject to inheritance tax, but if you take money out of your pot to give to your child you could find that this is subject to IHT if you don’t live for more than seven years after giving the money away.

Equity release

If you’re aged 55 or over and want to give your children a lump sum to put towards a property deposit, you could consider unlocking some of the wealth tied up in your own home by taking out an equity release plan. 

Using equity release means you don’t have to dip into savings and you could receive a lump sum to pass on, while continuing to remain in your home, although there are significant downsides to consider and this option definitely won’t be right for everyone. You eventually pay back any money released through equity release either when you die, or move into long-term care and your property is sold. Read more in our articles Equity release – what is it and how does it work? and Can I take money out of my property to give to my children? 

You can use our Lifetime Mortgage Calculator to work out the costs of equity release, and find more information about this in our article How much does equity release cost?

Pros: You don’t need to find the money to pay monthly repayments on an equity release plan as you would with a standard mortgage. Instead, the interest you owe rolls up over the years, and only has to be repaid when you move into long-term care or pass away. You remain in your own home and can use the money from equity release however you wish, so you may split it between your child’s property deposit and other outgoings, for example. 

Cons: Equity release costs can be really high because you’re not repaying any of the interest on the money you’ve borrowed, which means it is compounded over time. Other drawbacks include that your family may receive a smaller inheritance than they were expecting, and equity release can also impact on your entitlement to certain means-tested benefits. Read more in our article Equity release – what are the risks?

Using savings

Perhaps the simplest way for parents to give money to their child to help them onto the property ladder is by handing over some of their savings to put towards the purchase. However, the risk is that this could leave you short of money when you need it, for example if you need to pay for an unexpected bill or to cover day-to-day living costs. Bear in mind, too, that interest rates on savings accounts are currently much more competitive than they’ve been in decades, so it’s important to consider the loss of interest alongside access to your money. Read more in our article Five ways to boost your savings returns. 

Pros: A simple way to access money to hand over to your child, without having to apply for a financial product or sign up to a particular loan or mortgage agreement. 

Cons: You’ll lose access to your money, which could cause problems if you need it in the future. You’ll also miss out on interest on your cash savings, or potential investment returns if you take money out of the stock market. If you are cashing in investments, there’s also the risk of taking money out when markets are low, which would effectively turn any paper losses into real ones.

Lending a deposit

If you don’t want to hand over some or all of your savings, then lending a deposit is another option you might want to consider. You can set the repayment terms, and you’ll need to be able to trust your child to return the money to you. Bear in mind, though, that when they apply for a mortgage their lender will usually want to know about any loans which make up some of their deposit, and this could affect whether they offer your child a mortgage. The lender may also insist that the money is repaid when the property is sold, rather than paid back in instalments, as this could affect your child’s borrowing potential.

Pros: You hopefully won’t lose your money, as it’ll eventually be repaid provided your child sticks to the terms agreed. Lending a deposit is also potentially another simple option as it doesn’t require signing up to a financial product or agreement.

Cons: You may not get your money back if your child is struggling financially and unable to repay you. Lending a deposit could affect how much your child can borrow, depending on the lender’s assessment criteria.

Guarantor mortgages

With a guarantor mortgage, a parent or grandparent signs up to cover the mortgage repayments if the child fails to meet these. Guarantor mortgages used to be a common way for parents to help their child onto the property ladder, but they aren’t hugely popular these days given there are other options available to help those with small deposits. You’ll typically need to provide some sort of security as a guarantor, such as your own home or savings that could be seized if repayments aren’t met. 

Pros: Your child can potentially apply for a bigger mortgage if they have your backing, and therefore may be able to purchase a better property than they would otherwise have been able to. 

Cons: You could be putting your own home at risk if your child fails to make repayments or defaults on the terms of their mortgage, as you may be liable for the whole mortgage balance.

Joint mortgage

Some lenders will allow the mortgage to be held in joint names, which means that your income as well as your child’s can be considered in the mortgage application, potentially increasing your child’s borrowing potential. However, make sure only their name is on the property deeds if you already own your own home so you don’t end up being liable for the Stamp Duty Surcharge on second homes. You can find out more about this in our guide Stamp Duty explained.

You may also have to demonstrate that the mortgage payments will be affordable for you into retirement, depending on your age and the term of the mortgage. Remember that if you have a mortgage on your own home, this will be taken into account by the lender, which could reduce the size of the loan you and your child can apply for. 

If you aren’t sure which mortgage or remortgage deals you and your child will be eligible for, it may be worth speaking to a professional mortgage advisor to find out which options might be available to you. You can read more about how a mortgage advisor might be able to help you in our guide Should I get advice on my mortgage?

If you’re looking for expert mortgage advice, you can speak to an independent mortgage broker with Unbiased. Every advisor you find through Unbiased will be FCA-regulated, qualified and unconnected to product providers – so they can offer you truly unbiased advice.

Pros: A joint mortgage potentially increases the amount that your child can borrow to buy, and may enable them to purchase a better property than they would have otherwise been able to. 

Cons: Be careful of tax implications – the property could be considered a second home, which results in significantly higher tax charges. You’ll be jointly responsible for the mortgage payments.

Remortgaging

You usually remortgage when you come to the end of your current deal and you want to ensure you keep your mortgage repayments as low as possible. However, you may also choose to remortgage to release money tied up in the value of your home to pass on to your children. If you’ve paid off the majority of your mortgage, and you’ve plenty of equity in your property, this could be an option that’s worth considering. 

You can work out how much of your property you own by taking away the amount of mortgage you have outstanding from your property’s value. This will give you what’s known as the loan-to-value (LTV). For example, if the value of your mortgage has reduced from £300,000 to £200,000 over time on a home that’s now worth £400,000, your LTV will have reduced from 75% to 50%. You could remortgage to and release some of this equity. 

Read more in our guides Four things to consider when remortgaging and When is the best time to remortgage? If you think remortgaging could be a good option for you, it’s almost always a good first step to see what rates are available in the market. If you are nervous about switching lenders, it is still worth filtering for deals from your existing lender so you can see how much you could save from transferring to a new scheme with them. Our mortgage service allows you to compare the best rates from both your current lender and the wider market, quickly and easily.

Pros: If you don’t want to move or downsize, this could be a good option to help your child buy a home. It also enables you to keep hold of your savings rather than gift these, and means you can avoid signing up to a potentially more complicated mortgage arrangement with your child.

Cons: You might face a penalty for remortgaging if you do so before your existing mortgage deal has come to an end. Also, if you’re releasing equity you’re also increasing the size of your mortgage, and your monthly repayments. If you release a large amount, your LTV will increase, which reduces your chances of securing the best mortgage rates on the market.

Family offset mortgages

Another option is a ‘family offset mortgage’, which enables a parent or grandparent to put money into a savings account that’s linked to the child’s mortgage. The amount of savings you have is deducted from the mortgage balance, which effectively reduces the child’s repayments, but you can still access these savings in future. Your savings also provide the mortgage lender with some of the security required to proceed with the purchase.

An offset mortgage essentially works by reducing the mortgage’s loan-to-value (LTV). For example, let’s say your child needed a mortgage of £200,000 to buy a property. If you have £50,000 in a savings account, this could be used to reduce the amount that mortgage interest is charged on to £150,000. Read more in our article What is an offset mortgage? 

Pros: This option can be less of a financial burden than making a gift, for example, if you don’t want to lose access to money that you may need in the future. Meanwhile, your child benefits from lower mortgage repayments.

Cons: You won’t get any interest on your savings, and there aren’t many family offset mortgages out there to choose from. Depending on the mortgage terms, you should be able to access some of your savings if needed, although remember that doing so will increase your child’s repayments.

Get expert mortgage advice*

Looking to discuss your mortgage options? Speak to an expert independent mortgage broker with Unbiased. Every advisor you find through Unbiased will be FCA-regulated, qualified and unconnected to product providers – so they can offer you truly unbiased advice. Your first consultation is free.

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Buying a property outright

If you’ve got the money to do so, you could buy a property for your child yourself, either outright or by releasing equity on your own home to free up the cash. Bear in mind that if you need to borrow to buy your child a home, getting a mortgage on a property for your child to live in can be tricky. 

The majority of buy to let mortgages won’t allow you to let the property to your child, as lenders are anxious that you may not charge enough in rent to cover the mortgage, or that you might not chase missed payments. You may also have to pay the Stamp Duty Surcharge on a second property if you already own a home. Read more about the implications in our article Should I buy a property for my student child? 

Pros: If you’ve the money to buy your child a home, this gives them a leg-up onto the property ladder without worrying about saving for a deposit or paying a mortgage. It could enable them to focus on other financial goals instead. 

Cons: Letting a property to your child, if you plan to do so, can be complicated if you have a mortgage as lenders won’t typically allow it. You may also need to pay the Stamp Duty Surcharge on a second home, which can be a substantial amount.

Financial gifts and inheritance tax

If you’re planning to give a large amount away to your children to help them with a property deposit, bear in mind it could be subject to inheritance tax (IHT) if you die within seven years of giving the money away. 

Your estate is subject to inheritance tax at 40% on the value of your estate above £325,000 when you die, or £650,000 if you’re married. However, if you think your estate will be liable to IHT, you may be able to reduce your liability by making gifts to your children. Provided you live for at least seven years after making the gift, no IHT is payable. 

You can also give away up to £3,000 each year free of IHT, and carry this allowance over to the following tax year if it remains unused – increasing your allowance to a maximum of £6,000 for a year. You can also make smaller gifts of up to £250 a year to as many people as you like. However, you cannot combine this with the £3,000 allowance in a single year.

In addition to these exemptions, you can make regular gifts out of your surplus income (the income you have left over after all your outgoings have been paid) free of Inheritance Tax, as long as you can prove that making these gifts didn’t affect your standard of living. These gifts must form part of your ‘normal expenditure’ and be regularly paid out.

Read more in our articles Understanding Inheritance Tax and Which gifts are exempt from Inheritance Tax?

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