Strategies for Supporting Your Child’s First Home: Direct Gifting vs. Family Loans Demystified

As parents, one of our greatest joys is seeing our children reach significant milestones in their lives. Among these milestones, purchasing their first home stands out as a momentous occasion—a symbol of independence, stability, and achievement. However, with rising housing costs and increasingly stringent lending requirements, many young adults find themselves facing significant hurdles on the path to homeownership.

At the heart of the matter lies the question: How can parents best support their children in purchasing their dream homes without jeopardizing their own financial well-being? In this article, we’ll explore two commonly considered strategies—direct gifting and family loans—and shed light on their nuances to help you make informed decisions.

Direct Gifting: A Gesture of Generosity

Direct gifting involves giving a monetary gift to your child to assist them with their home purchase. Under current tax laws, individuals can gift up to $18,000 per year to any recipient without triggering gift tax consequences (annual exclusion giving). For married couples, this amount doubles, allowing for a combined gift of $36,000 per year per child. If your adult child is married, you can do a combined $72,000 to that couple1

One of the key benefits of direct gifting is its simplicity. By providing financial assistance upfront, parents can help alleviate some of the financial burden associated with a down payment or closing costs, without the complexities of loan agreements or interest rates.

However, it’s essential to strike a balance between generosity and financial prudence. While direct gifting can be a valuable tool for supporting your child’s homeownership journey, it’s crucial to consider the long-term implications for both parties, including potential tax implications and estate planning considerations.

Family Loans: A Path to Financial Flexibility

Alternatively, some parents may opt to extend a family loan to their child to help finance their home purchase. Unlike traditional bank loans, family loans offer greater flexibility in terms of interest rates and repayment terms, making them an attractive option in certain circumstances.

One of the primary advantages of family loans is the ability to set a lower interest rate than prevailing market rates. The rate at which you can lend to your child is set by the IRS and is called the Applicable Federal Rate (AFR). This can significantly reduce the financial burden on the borrower, especially in environments where interest rates are high.

However, family loans require careful documentation and adherence to legal and tax requirements to ensure they are treated as bona fide loans rather than gifts. It’s essential to consult with legal and financial professionals to navigate the complexities of structuring and administering family loans effectively.

Choosing the Right Path

In conclusion, both direct gifting and family loans offer viable strategies for parents looking to support their children in purchasing their first homes. Each approach has its advantages and considerations, and the optimal choice will depend on your unique financial circumstances and objectives.

Whether you opt for direct gifting or explore the option of family loans, the key is to approach the decision thoughtfully and with a clear understanding of the implications involved. By demystifying these strategies and empowering parents to make informed choices, we can help pave the way for our children to achieve their homeownership dreams while safeguarding our own financial futures.




Anna Diaz, CFP®

Anna Diaz, CFP®

Partner, Wealth Advisor

Anna is a Partner, Wealth Advisor in our San Diego office. Passionate about helping her clients both understand and navigate the financial questions they face throughout their lives, she especially loves partnering with people to accomplish true success on their terms. Anna has over 20 years of experience in the wealth advisory field and holds elevated designations such as the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification, Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA) and Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA) designations. She also holds an executive certificate in Investment Strategies and Portfolio Management from Wharton and is currently studying for the Accredited Estate Planner designation (AEP). Anna enjoys simplifying the complex financial world so her clients maximize their outcomes, feel empowered in their financial decisions and feel they have a partner who has a close eye on their financial wellness.  Anna is passionate about giving back and serves on the board of Stella Foundation, an organization that helps female founders. She is most proud of her role as a mom to her two children and has been married to her husband for 15 years. Anna loves being outdoors in her city, family time, reading, music (of all types!) and salsa dancing when she gets the chance.


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