Buying with Help: If They Pay Do They Get a Say?

The high cost of education, poor job prospects and rising prices in many housing markets mean more young prospective home buyers are turning to their families for help to buy their first home.

Traditionally many parents have opted to contribute toward a down payment, but in recent years, that contribution has become bigger and the practice has grown in popularity.

It’s becoming so common that house-and-home channels have a whole show – My House, Your Money – focused on buyers who can afford to buy only with their families’ help.

For the contributors, it’s not as simple as writing a check and waiting for the housewarming party. Now, in time-honored “pay the piper” tradition, many families want a role in the buying process; they attend viewings, push their ideas and even try to hijack the real estate agent/buyer relationship.

The gap between what young buyers want and what families feel the kids need can create a dramatic tug-of-war that makes great fodder for a TV show. Episodes of My House, Your Money show adult children asking their parents to take a step back and parents using their investment as a bargaining chip.

It isn’t always this way: Just because they’re investors doesn’t mean that family members can make the big decisions. As real estate agents who have dealt with these situations point out, most parents want what’s best for their kids, and while it might not be what they would pick, that condo in the sky may be what makes their offspring happy.