Hand Me Down Homes

By Melanie Robitaille, Sr. Staff Writer & Graphic Designer

Two things have always been true about homeownership; it’s one of the best ways to build wealth, and timing is everything, but ask any of today’s youth and they’ll tell you they’re lucky to even get skin in the game.

These aren’t just the rumblings of a misunderstood demographic either. The fact is Millennials and Gen Y’s across North America face one of the largest housing price-to-income ratio gaps in history. In 2019, Janice Petteway, EXIT Realty’s Director of Brokerage Development told a Convention Breakout Session audience, “If you want to change the life of your children, have them ready to buy their first house at 18.” The markets took off months later, and that gap has only grown over the past three years.

The National Association of REALTORS’® (NAR’s) 2022 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report states, “29% of younger Millennials received down payment help in the form of a gift or a loan from a friend or relative,” and EXIT Real Estate Experts Franchisee, April Harrington also subscribes to this idea when it comes to working with her younger customers.

“Having a co-signer who’s more established like a parent or grandparent, who has a bigger equity position can be helpful. I always encourage [clients] to look to their family tree for assistance for things like closing costs, down payment assistance, or even going in half and half,” she explained.


April also believes the earlier a home is passed on to younger generations the better, to ensure transactions aren’t held up by probate or inheritance taxes, but she also warns those who do this might have to pay a portion of that sale back in taxes affecting their capital gains. In her 10 years of real estate experience, she has seen everything from Quit Claim Deeds to families creating Limited Liability Companies (LLCs) to purchase property together. She even helped her family by purchasing her grandfather’s home with her mom so he could use the much-needed money.

“After he passed, [we knew] neither one of us was going to live there,” she said. “Fortunately, we were able to sell it for an incredibly reasonable price to my cousin, and it ended up staying in the family…It’s just a very comforting feeling to know that your homestead – the place where you grew up and loved is always going to be taken care of by people you love.”

It’s a notion that still inspires many today, as most continue to invest in real estate simply to put down roots and build equity upon which they can retire one day. But with aging-at-home incentives to deal with a Boomer population too great for healthcare systems, not to mention the rising cost of senior living and long-term care facilities, many are choosing to keep real estate and dwelling all in the family.


When helping clients purchase in these types of scenarios April’s biggest concern is making sure that everyone understands where every single dollar is coming from, and going to.

“If you and your mother were buying property, we would sit down together and figure out where every penny is coming from, who’s qualifying for the mortgage, whose names are placed on the deed, and who has rights of survivorship of that property as well. In living will situations where there are other siblings involved, they could have rights to that property if your mom passed and there was no will in place and both your names were still on the property. You want to make sure all those chains of title are cleared up and written very well and accurately before anyone signs on the dotted line.”

Having multiple generations under one roof comes with cost savings, home security assurances, and maintenance benefits just to name a few, but April sees a much deeper passing down of wisdom at the heart of these transactions.

“I love working with families that want to help their kids and grandkids build generational wealth because they understand the impact it can truly make on their lives,” she shared. “A young adult may or may not truly understand what it means to be a homeowner, or second homeowner until their grandparents or parents are able to show them. If buying together, or buying from them is the best option, I will gladly help guide young investors through that.”

For more stories and tips on navigating the shifting real estate market check The EXIT Achiever or text ACHIEVER to 85377 today!

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