Select A Department:

Courses in this Department

Want to Invest in Real Estate?

How to Hire a Realtor

What's the Key to Locking in a Mortgage?

How to Improve Your Credit

Watch out for Mortgage Fraud

Need a Buyer-Broker?

Learn How to Best Insure Your Home and Save Money

Avoid Trouble on Your Kids Mortgage

Downward Direction for Down Payments

How to Hire a Contractor

Save Money by Cancelling Your Private Mortgage Insurance ("PMI")

Crunch the Numbers and Drop Your Private Mortgage Insurance ("PMI") Payments

Who's Watching your Deposit Money?

Remodeling Value: Your Best Investments

More Than One Way to Pay for Remodeling

File Your Income Tax Returns Early and Save Money

Types of Loans Available for the Self-Employed

Top Five Homeowner Tax Saving Ideas


Avoid Trouble on Your Kids' Mortgage

Many first-time home buyers are getting a financial shot-in-the-arm from their parents. It's easy to understand why. With mortgage rates better than ever, young people sometimes just need a boost from their parents to afford their first home? But before they help their kids make a down payment or qualify for a loan, parents should know the risks of playing financial benefactor, says Lew Sichelman in The Journal Newspapers.

1 - Co-signing

    Qualifying for a mortgage can be tough early-on in life if your income isn't high enough, or you haven't yet established a credit record. Parents can help by co-signing the note and guaranteeing the mortgage. Remember, at least 5 percent of the down payment still must come from the borrower's personal funds on a co-signed mortgage, so long as the down payment is 20 percent or less which is very likely. The advantage is that the lender may be more generous on the qualifying ratios for income and debt. The kids could qualify with a monthly expense-to-income ratio as high as 35 percent, and with a total debt-to-income ratio up to 43 percent. That's seven percentage points better than normal.

    Remember, parents: the next time you apply for a loan, the lender will include any mortgage you have co-signed into YOUR debt-to-income ratio. And guess who's responsible if the kids don't make their monthly payments? Although lenders don't typically go after parents in a default situation, the end result is a spot on your credit record. That's all you need to make it more difficult to get a loan of your own. In situations where the house is worth less than what's still owed, you could be financially liable for taxes on the difference. In the worst-case scenario, parents may regret co-signing for their kids after paying for their kids' blown financial obligations.

    Risk Reduction.
    The problem is when young people default on a loan, they frequently don't bother to tell their parents. You may not find out until you apply for a loan and discover it on your credit record. Avoid nasty surprises by telling the lender to notify all borrowers, including you as co-signer, whenever a payment is late. That early warning also gives you the chance to bail the kids out, if necessary, before things get out of hand. Another way to reduce your long-term risk is to take your name off the note as soon as the kids can qualify with their own assets.

2 - Down Payment Help

    Parents who want to help on the down payment are allowed to make up the difference in a gift. But lenders will want certain assurances. You'll have to sign a letter specifying the gift amount and when the funds were transferred, that no repayment is expected, and that you have sufficient funds to cover the gift. Wait until settlement before transferring the funds--they'll be easier to trace and you can collect interest in the meantime. You may wish to consider loaning the kids money, too. Borrowed funds can be used as part of a down payment so long as some asset secures the funds. The lender will want to verify that the loan is secured. In any event, make sure you lay out the terms of your loan in writing. If the kids don't pay you back, you'll need documentation to be able to write off the loss on your taxes.