Emptying the Nest: How Parents are Helping their Kids Buy Homes

April 1, 2018 | Posted by: Eric Palmer


In February 2018, the Financial Post ran a story about adults still living with their parents. The figures are staggering. The number of adults still living at Parents Inn—as the Postaffectionately referred to it—is up 13.3 per cent since 2001. For reference, young adults living with a spouse or partner is down 14.6 per cent.

For many boomers who, through modern healthcare and better habits, have been given a second chance at a teenager’s existence (albeit with more money and less mobility), their kids are definitely cramping their style.

“I’m 66 years old,” says For parents who have the means to help their kids buy a home in today’s pricey environment, gifting money towards a down payment is one of the best way to do it.

Steven James (not his real name), a retired mechanic from Oakville. “I didn’t work my butt off for the last 48 years to share my bathroom with my son.”

Steven’s not alone. Boomers across the country are done with multi-generational living. And it’s gotten to the point where they’re throwing money at the problem. Of Canadian parents recently polled by CIBC, 76 per cent would give their kids a financial boost to help them move out, get married or move in with a partner.

But these days, given the average price of a starter home and the state of employment for young people (the record low since 1976 was still over 10 per cent), it’s going to take more than just a “boost.”

If you’re in a position to help your kids buy a home (and help yourself reclaim your home), you have many options. But a gift—otherwise known as a living inheritance—is among the most sensible. Here are three reasons why:

As a baby boomer, you’re in the middle of an unprecedented wealth transfer that CIBC capital markets estimates to be in the range of $750 billion in cash, property and investment holdings. If you’re in the position to not need the money coming to you, that windfall will just amount to a big tax hit. However, if you were to turn around and gift it to your kids, it’s no longer a tax burden for you or them (unlike in the U.S., Canada has no gift tax). This Globe and Mail article delves into the long-term tax implications of gifting money: namely less for your kids to pay in estate tax when you die.

For all intents and purposes, gifting money is a way to take it off your books, without putting it on your kids’ books.

Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations.

This old proverb neatly sums up what happens when large sums of money are passed down through a family. You’ve no doubt heard of wealthy heirs who finally get their hands on the family fortune, only to squander it away within a generation.

While you still have some control over where your money goes, gifting a portion of it towards the purchase of an appreciating asset for your children is sensible.

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