Not everyone wins from the bank of mum and dad

From The Conversation.

The “bank of mum and dad” is helping young Australians with more than just their housing aspirations. New analysis of data on children receiving an inheritance or cash payment from their parents has found they are more likely to be involved in business startups, financial risk-taking and entrepreneurial ventures, and receive other benefits to those without wealthy parents.

The bank of mum and dad is an expression coined to describe parents generously helping their children to get onto the home ownership ladder. We already know that parental transfers are helping Gen X and Gen Y children break into home ownership, in a market considered unaffordable by international standards.

While some are angered by the growing intergenerational wealth divide between the millennials and their baby boomer parents, estimates from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey show many young people are benefiting from the wealth of their parents.

Between 2002 and 2012, 1.8 million Australians received an inheritance on one or more occasions. There was an average transfer of A$95,000 per beneficiary over the period. An even higher number (5.8 million) received cash transfers from surviving parents. These gifts averaged A$9,000 per recipient.

Housing assets remain the most important component of households’ wealth portfolios. The majority of households will therefore directly or indirectly draw down on housing wealth to finance monetary gifts to others while they are still alive. The family home is also typically the largest asset bequeathed when parents pass on.

Moreover, booming real house prices have boosted inheritances. At the same time, flexible mortgages have enabled parents to dip into their housing wealth to finance cash gifts to their children.

More than a leg up the housing ladder

A recent Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute report has shed new light on how financial gifts from parents help shape young people’s economic opportunities.

The study matches every person benefiting from an inheritance or parental cash transfer to a “control” person who is not a beneficiary, but has otherwise similar personal characteristics.

We found that the bank of mum and dad is helping young Australians with more than just their housing.

Intergenerational transfer beneficiaries are more likely to hold a bachelor’s degree than non-beneficiaries. Among those who receive cash payments from their parents, 29% hold a bachelor’s degree compared to 21% of the control group who do not receive such transfers. Bequest recipients have double the average bank deposit account balance of the matched controls. These larger financial holdings can be used to buffer income shocks, and as collateral to relax borrowing constraints.

Beneficiaries might therefore be willing to take more risks. They are also better positioned to borrow and finance business startups that might not otherwise get off the ground. These ideas are supported by the data.

A higher percentage of those enjoying access to the bank of mum and dad have set up their own business. 22% of heirs to a bequest are self-employed. In comparison, only 16% of the matched controls were self-employed. Similarly, 17% of those receiving cash payments from their parents are self-employed, compared to 11% of the matched controls.

The findings suggest that the bank of mum and dad could play a role in lifting economic growth through multiple channels. These include business startups, financial risk-taking and entrepreneurial ventures.

Bridging an intergenerational divide or widening an intra-generational gap?

It seems the bank of mum and dad is recycling large amounts of housing wealth to the next generation through intergenerational transfers; and it is an increasingly important pillar supporting educational, housing and business opportunities. However, this is a “leg up” that only benefits those fortunate enough to have parents that are able and willing to transfer wealth.

The business opportunities, educational gains and home ownership status that these transfers promote will create a growing divide among younger Australians. Those whose parents own a home are able to take advantage of a wider set of opportunities than others.

As the home ownership dream fades for growing numbers of Australians, this divide will become more conspicuous. Life time renting is a prospect that many Gen X and Gen Y parents are having to contemplate. Unless Australian governments reverse the decline in home ownership, their children will in turn be bypassed by the intergenerational circulation of housing wealth.

These concerns should provide added impetus as governments strive to improve housing affordability, and restore the home ownership society older Australians take for granted. If our governments fail in this regard we could very well witness further entrenchment of inequality in decades to come.

Authors: Rachel Ong, Deputy Director, Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, Curtin University;  Gavin Wood, Professor of Housing, RMIT University;  Melek Cigdem-Bayram, Research Fellow, RMIT University

The Property Market, By The Numbers

In our latest video blog we walk though some of the most important numbers in the mortgage and property market, including the latest findings from our household surveys.

Some of the questions we answer are:

  • How big is the mortgage market?
  • How many borrowing households are there?
  • What is the average mortgage size?
  • How many households are excluded from the market?
  • What will happen if mortgage rates rise by 3%?
  • Where is mortgage stress worst?
  • How does the Bank of Mum and Dad in Australia compare with the UK?



Discussing The Bank of Mum and Dad

We discussed our recent research on the Bank of Mum and Dad on the TalkingLifeStyle Smart Money radio show. More first time buyers are getting help from parents – up to 54% in the past quarter. This help varies from a loan for a deposit, a cash present, help with transaction expenses, or ongoing assistance with mortgage repayments or other household expenses.   Parental guarantees are falling out of favour.


You can read our recent research note here.

The link to the programme is here.



Baby Boomers digging into retirement savings to help their kids buy houses

From StartsAt60.

We’ve all heard stories about some Baby Boomer parents helping their kids out to buy their first home.

But as a new report, released by Digital Finance Analytics, has revealed, it’s becoming a growing trend across the country.

The report shows a growing number of Baby Boomer parents are giving their adult children money a leg up to get into the property market.

In fact, 54% of first home buyers who entered the property market in the last quarter of 2016 had financial help from their parents.

According to the report, in the last quarter of last year, the average amount given by parents to help their children buy property was $85,000.

Digital Finance Analytics principal Martin North said many Baby Boomer parents were bringing forward their children’s inheritance, using rising equity in their property to fund their kids first home deposit.

“Some are making a loan, others a gift,” he told Starts at 60.

“This is clearly eroding savings and equity for retirement. It’s replacing guarantees.”

While many parents are more than happy to give their children the money, Mr North said it could create some issues for parents down the track – particularly at retirement age.

“If it’s a gift, then the capital is gone. If it’s a loan, this can lead to difficulty later, especially if the terms are not clear, or the kids decide not to repay,” he said.

“Given that many Baby Boomers will not have sufficient super to funder their longer than expected retirement, this could put more pressure on the pension budget and create hardship for some in the future.

“I’m not sure many really understand the potential implications, but they also want to help their kids.”

This chart shows the ages at which parents are giving money to their kids. Source: Digital Finance Analytics
This chart shows the ages at which parents are giving money to their kids. Source: Digital Finance Analytics

The report found that parents aged between 55 and 60 were most likely to give their kids money for a home deposit, followed by those aged between 60 and 65.

Interestingly, that number drops once parents retire after the age of 65.

The children receiving the money are aged mostly between 30 and 35 (41.2%) and 35 and 40 (33.6%).

So, what do the Baby Boomers think of the report’s finding?

Well, we put the age old question of “would you give money to your children to help them buy their first home?” to Starts at 60 readers and the response was varied.

Several SAS readers shared stories of how they gave money to their children.

Joanne Tonkin-Bride said she gave more than double the average of $85k to each of her children.

“My ex was a very good provider and therefore were fortunate enough to be able to do so,” she said.

“l would rather see my children happy now, than after l’m dead and gone.”

Fellow SAS reader Lorrain Lidston also provided for her daughters’ home deposits.

“When our parents passed, we sold their property and split it with our two girls, having 1/3 each,” she said.

“Better they enjoy it now than when we are gone.”

Some other readers loaned money to their children, while others acted as guarantors.

Unfortunately, as some readers pointed, many Baby Boomers can’t afford to give their kids help.

Many of you wish you could help them, but as you would know, a lot of Boomers are struggling.

“I wish we had been able to have that opportunity, we have been frugal all our lives but did not have the money to put into Super, gave them a private school education instead,” SAS reader Pamela Sanders said.

And then there are some Baby Boomers who pointed out that their parents didn’t help them out, and that their kids need to work hard and save for themselves.

“I had to work for my first house. No one helped me.” SAS reader Ruth Hourigan said.

“I personally believe that is a major problem with todays generation. They can’t be bothered doing it for themselves.”

You might be wondering what is driving the trend in Baby Boomers helping their kids buy their first home?

Well, it all comes down to the very topical issue of housing affordability.

Mr North said that housing affordability was “shot” for purchasers without parental help, and he’s pointing the finger at high house prices, banks demanding larger deposits and a reduction in first home buyer grants.

“With parental help they may be able to buy (either for OO or investment purposes), but this does not help affordability in the longer term as it will continue to push prices higher, alongside ongoing demand from investors,” he said.

“Regulators may be pressing the banks to curtail lending growth a bit, but demand, especially down the east coast is rabid.

“Savers of course get lower returns on deposits which makes savings for the house deposit more challenging without a circuit breaker like the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’.”

Interestingly, another report released this week shows the majority of Australians across all ages believe the Great Australian Dream is becoming harder to achieve.

The Evolving Great Australian Dream report, released by Mortgage Choice, has found an increasing number of us don’t believe the Great Australian Dream of  “a free-standing house on a quarter-acre block in the suburbs” is achievable.

The report found 85% of Australians over the age of 50 don’t believe the Great Australian Dream is achievable, compared to 91.6% of Australians under the age of 30.

Mortgage Choice CEO John Flavell said Australians struggling to get a foot on the property ladder needed help to achieve their dream of home ownership.

To date, we have heard a myriad of suggestions from both sides of parliament in relation to what should be done to address the issue of housing affordability,” he said.

Home ownership should be achievable for all Australians, and as a nation, we should do what it takes to make that a reality.”

And the trend of housing affordability is only set to get worse, with more first home buyers set to rely on their parents to make home ownership a reality.

Mr North pointed to the UK, where more than 70% of first home buyers were getting help from the “Bank of Mum and Dad”.

“For as long as housing affordability is out of kilter with flat or falling incomes, many won’t be able to enter the market without help,” he said.

“My point is these intergeneration issues are not well understood. There are risks for both parties, and creates an additional divide – those wanting to buy with affluent parent can, those without this benefit are excluded.It is a symptom of a failed housing market. And failed Government policy to say nothing of poor RBA judgement.”

More First Time Buyers Open An Account At “The Bank of Mum and Dad”

We have updated our analysis of assistance first time buyers are getting from their families in a desperate effort to get into the housing market at a time when the entry barriers in terms of price and affordability are as high as ever they have been. In addition, high loan-to-value loans are less available, so first time buyers need a larger deposit, and first owner grants are harder to access. Savings interest rates are also very low.

We released analysis a few months back, which caused quite a stir as it highlighted the inter-generational  issues in play. We have now updated the quarterly analysis with data to December 2016.

First, more first time buyers are getting help from parents – up to 54% in the past quarter. This help varies from a loan for a deposit, a cash present, help with transaction expenses, or ongoing assistance with mortgage repayments or other household expenses.   Parental guarantees are falling out of favour.

Parents are able to assist, thanks to the wealth effect created by home price appreciation, which is still occurring in the eastern states, though more patchily elsewhere.

Just under half the assistance is going towards first time buyers in NSW (mainly Greater Sydney), where the affordability issues are most difficult, and home prices the highest. But other states are also, to some extent, also in the game.  Ignoring the volume growth, the percentage mix has been relatively stable.

But here is the volume picture, which shows the relative number across states (note the small counts in some states are less statistically robust), but the trends are clear.

Another cut on the data is looking at the type of property being purchased. In 2015, more investment property was is the mix, but now the growth is among owner occupied purchasers.

In terms of the value of the financial contribution, it varies. But for those making a loan or payment direct to assist in a purchase by way of a deposit, the average amount is now north of $85,000.

If parents bring forward payments to assist their offspring, it is worth asking whether this act of kindness may have unintended consequences.

  • First, are parents giving away some of their future financial security?
  • If it is a loan, is the basis of repayment clear, and documented?
  • When a bank assesses a mortgage application do they consider the source of the deposit – receiving a “seagull” lump sum is not the same as demonstrating a history of saving, and the risk profiles down the track are different.

It also raises complex questions around equity between siblings, and a whole raft of questions relating to inter-generational finance.

It is also worth remembering that more first time buyers are going to the investment sector before purchasing their own home for owner occupation, as our first time buyer tracker shows.