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Buying a house jointly with your parents

By teaming up with your parents to buy a house, you make yourself a low-risk borrower in the eyes of the banks and avoid saving a big deposit.

With property prices as high as they are, a lot of young Australian borrowers get help from their parents to buy a house. Finder research shows that 17% of Australian parents have helped their children save a house deposit in 2021. 7% have supported a home loan as mortgage guarantors. But you can go even further than this and actually buy a house jointly with your parents.

How can I buy a house with my parents?

Mother helping her daughter talk to a mortgage broker.

There are different ways to purchase a property jointly. Your parents may have savings they can add to your deposit, or they might borrow some of the equity in their home to cover the cost.

You and your parents must decide the ownership split and the ownership structure. You and your parents will both be responsible for repaying the home loan. If either you or your parents fall behind on repayments, the other party is responsible for covering their share.

If you are buying a house with your parents, both you and your parents will be listed on the property title.

Ownership structure

There are 2 ways you can buy a house in tandem with your parents: you can be tenants-in-common or joint tenants.

  • Tenants-in-common. This is the more popular arrangement and allows you and your parents to divide ownership of the property in whatever way you like, such as 60:40 or 70:30. Under this ownership structure, if one party dies, their share of the property is passed on according to the terms of their will. It could pass to you, or someone else depending on the terms of the will.
  • Joint tenants. Under a joint tenancy arrangement, ownership of the property is split 50:50. If one joint tenant dies, their share of the property is automatically passed to the other joint tenant regardless of what their will says. It's not possible to transfer ownership of one half without the consent of the other owner.

When buying a property with your parents it's very important to have everything clearly spelled out in a contract. It's a good idea to talk to a conveyancer (you'll need one to guide you through settlement anyway).

What are the pros and cons of joint property ownership?

Joint or co-ownership is not for everyone. For the right family it's a great idea but you need to weigh the benefits and potential downsides carefully.

Potential benefits

  • Enter the property market faster. In Australia’s expensive property market, co-buying with your parents may be the only way that some young Australians can realise their property ownership dreams.
  • Increase your buying power. By using the equity in your parents’ home and sharing the repayments, you can afford to think bigger when choosing your first home. Instead of buying a budget, entry-level property, you could buy the home you want to live in for the rest of your life.
  • Borrow less. By teaming up with your parents you are effectively borrowing less money than you would if you were out on your own, which means that you only have to manage smaller, more affordable repayments.
  • Share the responsibility. Sharing the responsibility of loan repayments with your parents takes some of the anxiety out of the situation and means that you have a safety net if you get into any financial difficulty and fall behind on your repayments.

Potential disadvantages

  • Circumstances change. While you and your parents might be on the same page about buying a property now, will that still be the case in a few years’ time? As people’s lives change, so do their financial needs and goals. If in 5 years’ time you decide that you want to sell the property but your parents don’t, things can get messy.
  • You and your parents are both liable for the loan. If you take out a joint loan for $500,000, you and your parents are both liable for the full $500,000 loan amount, not $250,000 each, as many people assume. If your parents’ financial circumstances change and they’re unable to make their mortgage repayments, you’ll need to manage the full loan repayments by yourself.
  • Your future borrowing power is reduced. Banks will take into account your liability for the existing joint loan if you want to apply for financing in the future. For example, if you find a partner and decide to buy a house together, the loan you already share with your parents could significantly reduce your borrowing power.

Tips for buying a house with your parents

  • Get professional advice. Before you enter into a co-ownership agreement, make sure you get advice from a solicitor or conveyancer. This will ensure that you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into and what you need to do to protect yourself from potential risk.
  • Draw up a co-ownership agreement. It’s essential that you and your parents get a co-ownership agreement drawn up before you join forces. This will ensure that there are procedures in place if there are ever any disagreements or if circumstances change. For example, it can outline how to split costs between parties, what happens if one party defaults on their repayments and what happens if the loan needs to be refinanced.
  • Have an exit strategy. Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you and your parents both have an exit strategy. How long do you plan on holding the property for? If one of you wants to sell up and move on, how will this situation be handled?
  • Update your will. If you select a tenants-in-common ownership arrangement, make sure you update your will with the details of what you would like to happen to your share of the property if you die.

Get in touch with a mortgage broker and get some professional advice

Joint ownership won't work for me – are there any other options?

If joint property ownership isn’t the right solution for you and your family, there are several other ways your parents can help you buy a house, such as:

  • Going guarantor. If your parents guarantee your home loan, they agree to assume responsibility for your mortgage if you default on your repayments. This means that if you get into financial trouble and are unable to repay your loan, your parents will be asked to pay out the loan in full, which could put their own home at risk. With this in mind, your parents might consider a limited guarantee, which means that they only have to guarantee part of the loan.
  • Lending you some money. If you have sufficient income to manage home loan repayments but you don’t have enough money for a deposit, you might consider asking your parents to lend you some money. This means that your parents can avoid the risks of going guarantor. However, be warned that some lenders won’t classify borrowed money as a legitimate deposit. A proper loan agreement should also be drawn up to prevent any problems from occurring.
  • “Gifting” you some money. If your mum and dad decide to give you some money as a gift, they can avoid the pitfalls of going guarantor on a loan. This can increase your borrowing capacity and help you buy the home you want.
  • Buying the property and then renting it out to you. This is a common strategy and involves parents buying an investment property in a sought-after location, for example, an inner-city apartment, and then renting it out to their child. The downside to this is that you’re still no closer to owning your own home, but if you can negotiate cheaper rent with your parents, you could be able to put more money aside each week to save for a deposit on your own property.
  • Buying a property in your name. The final option is for your parents to buy a property in your name or through a trust. This allows you to live in the home while your parents face the responsibility of paying off the loan. The downside to this is that when you become the owner of the property, either when your parents die or when they transfer ownership to you, your parents (or their estate) will face a capital gains tax liability.

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15 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    FledgeJanuary 30, 2024

    Hi team – loved this article. I have talked to so many friends about buying with their parents and it still feels like a taboo topic. If you were buying with your parents where would you go to get information? Is there anywhere that’s a good one-stop-shop resource?

    Because of my own experience, I started a community for people in this exact situation, so we can learn from one another and talk to experts as we’re going through the buying process. If anyone is interested it’s at: hello.fledge.au

    Default Gravatar
    JohnNovember 3, 2022

    My parents would like to gift me a house (buying with cash so no finance needed). I’m just wondering if they are able to buy it, but put it in my name and if there are any implications in doing this. For example tax etc.?
    Thanks!

      AvatarFinder
      RebeccaNovember 11, 2022Finder

      Hi John,

      Yes, your parents can purchase a property in your name. If you’re still a minor, they simply need to put proper notations on the title. When you turn 18, they need to present a copy of your birth certificate and evidence that you’re still alive to the relevant government department who will then make the necessary title changes. There will be no stamp duty or capital gains tax on this title change in this scenario.

      For other circumstances, stamp duty may be applied when buying a property. The exact amount and exemptions depend on the state or territory you live in and the price of the property purchased. You may utilize your state government’s stamp duty calculator to have an idea of how much it would cost. You can also consult a tax advisor.

      Refer to our relevant guide on gifting property here.

      Kind regards,
      Rebecca

    Default Gravatar
    SarahMay 4, 2022

    I plan to buy a property with my son using the Joint tenants method. My intention is once I die the property is automatically passed to my son, my only concern is whether he need to pay extra stamp duty for the new 50% ownership? Thank you.

      AvatarFinder
      RichardMay 5, 2022Finder

      Hi Sarah,

      If a joint tenant passes away, the other tenant/owner retains ownership of the whole property. So there is no stamp duty because you both own 100% equally, not 50% each if that makes sense?

      If you are concerned or have more legal questions, you should definitely consult your conveyancer.

      I hope this helps.

      Regards,
      Richard

    Default Gravatar
    NickjacApril 4, 2022

    I have permanent residency my parents are coming out on an 870 visa ( they are awaiting their 173/143 visa to be processed) can I help them buy a property as tenants in common 30:70 & how will that affect the stamp duty ?

      AvatarFinder
      SarahApril 7, 2022Finder

      Hi Nickjac,

      This is quite a complicated situation, and the answer depends on a number of factors including which state or territory you’re buying in, as each one has different rules around stamp duty rates and foreign owner rates. Your best bet is to call the Office of State Revenue in the state/territory you live in and call them for clear advice based on your specific circumstances.

      All the best!
      Sarah

    Default Gravatar
    KelvinMarch 28, 2022

    My parents would like to buy a house for me from oversea. What documents and criteria required for them to be able to pay money directly to the seller? or they just need a contract?

      AvatarFinder
      RichardMarch 30, 2022Finder

      Hi Kelvin,

      Are your parents Australian residents or citizens? If not, buying a property in Australia will be a little more complicated. They will have to get approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board.

      When buying a property in Australia, the first step is to sign the contract between the seller and the buyer. You should also engage a conveyancer to check the paperwork. Then a deposit is usually paid via bank transfer to the seller (or a trust account set up by the real estate agent). Then there is usually a period of 30 to 90 days before settlement, where ownership is officially transferred and the rest of the money is paid by the buyer (and the lender, if there is a loan).

      If your parents wish to pay the full price for the property, then no lender or loan is involved. You could talk to the seller and their real estate agent to organise the money transfer at settlement. And you will definitely need a conveyancer.

      I hope this helps.

      Kind regards,
      Richard

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