Using a cash gift for a home loan deposit

Hand holding a wrapped present.Home buyers with generous parents can use a gift of cash as a deposit, but you still need to prove you can repay your lender.

It's common for parents to help their kids buy property. Most lenders are happy for immediate family members to give 'non-refundable gifts' of cash to boost a borrower's mortgage deposit.

But there are a few rules you need to know to make sure your gift meets the bank’s criteria.

When money is gifted to a property-buyer close to purchase time, a gift letter or statutory declaration needs to be signed by the family member, stating that the money is to be used for the purchase of property and that the loan is unconditional. The rules around non-refundable gifts state that it needs to be from an immediate family member, which includes de facto, siblings, grandparents as well as parents.

Learn more about gift letters for home loans

Mortgage Broker Daniel Corran from McCombe Finance says lenders often require that the gift be held in the account for a minimum of three months before purchase application approval.

This is especially the case, Corran says, when a potential home-buyer has less than a 20 per cent deposit saved up, as this is the minimum amount required under the bank’s mortgage lenders’ insurance policy, which protects the bank against the risk of a borrower defaulting on a loan.

Most borrowers also need to demonstrate their own minimum 5 per cent of genuine savings. The bank will sometimes ask to see a person’s previous banking records as evidence that a person is able to save money over a continuous period and is therefore likely to be able to service a home loan.

Read the full guide to saving a home loan deposit

"The paperwork required regarding the gift differs between lenders,” Corran says. So it’s wise to get some help from a mortgage broker or do your research before submitting a loan application with a non-refundable gift included.

Corran says some families consider using their own home or an investment property as security in a “family-pledge” situation rather than gifting cash, however, if the borrower defaults on their mortgage, then the family member’s property is at risk when it is cross-secured. For this reason, Corran says non-refundable gifts are usually safer for families as there is no recourse against assets.

The final point Corran tells his clients when they’re considering giving a non-refundable gift to a family member is to make sure that it’s not self-sacrificing and that it doesn’t jeopardise the financial position of the gift-giver.

'The giftor should seek independent financial advice for themselves to ensure their viability to give the gift – to make sure it’s not going to significantly reduce the giftor’s standard of living or interrupt their cash flow,' he says.

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Marc Terrano

Marc Terrano is a Lead Publisher at finder. He's been writing and publishing personal finance content for over five years and loves to help Australians get a better deal.

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