I regularly receive queries from parents on a variety of topics concerning their children. Erma Bombeck the American humourist once stated "children make your life important" so when the thorny issue of gifting money to your son or daughter to buy their first property crops up, doing it the right way can make all the difference.

The following question is a typical example from a concerned parent:

Question: My daughter is hoping to buy her first home this year. I want to help her out by stumping up a proportion of the deposit. Will this affect her application for a mortgage though? She has a savings record but my contribution will be about half of the required deposit. Will banks take a dim view of this? Also, what are the tax implications of me giving her money towards her deposit? Would it be more tax efficient for me to gift her items for her new home, such as a sofa etc?

Annette - Clonmel

Answer: What a nice Mum you are Annette! First of all, [you can gift inheritance monies whilst still alive]. The threshold from mother to daughter is currently €310,000 – anything over this amount attracts a 33% capital acquisition tax.

The current Gift tax threshold is €3,000 per annum per parent though I am not sure if anyone returns sofas and beds given to them by their parents to Revenue!

Your daughter will have to prove where the deposit originated both to the lender and potentially Revenue. So whatever sum you are going to give her, send it electronically from your bank account to her bank account so there is a record. Cash in a brown paper bag, [or even slick brown wallet as below, could be a little more difficult to trace and prove that its all above board!]

Certainly, by helping out on the deposit, you will doubly help your daughter – most lenders now offer tiered mortgage interest rates… the more you pay off the property, the cheaper the rate. For instance, KBC Bank’s lowest tiered rate for new borrowers and switchers – 50% or less – is currently the best in the market at 3% if you open a current account with them.

Up to 60% it is 3.05%, over 60% and up to 80% the rate is 3.10% while the over 80% rate is 3.5%. Maximum threshold is 90% loan.

Your daughter will still need to both justify the mortgage applied for in terms of income capacity and ability to save. For instance, if she has been living at home, paying nothing for her own maintenance just partying and keeping herself in the luxury she’s hoping to maintain, then she may be in for a shock when those repayments start!

Lenders like to see some regular saving going on for precisely that reason – that it’s not a shock to the system. In your daughter’s case, she already has a savings record – so that is good.

She will also have to comply with the income requirements for the loan sought. There are two methods used – the multiples method ( up to 3½ times annual gross income ) or the Net Disposable Income (NDI) method ( what you have net after tax each month – all financial monthly commitments should not exceed c. 35% of your NDI – the balance of 65% is to live some quality of life)

She will also require independent advice on life cover – it is mandatory on home loans once you are under 50 years of age. Simple decreasing term should suit – this only pays out whatever the mortgage balance should she die. Only when dependents arrive should she consider taking out additional stand-alone separate life insurance. Being single and having to rely on her own income to pay for everything may prompt her to consider income protection. If for whatever reason she cannot work and she is incapacitated, that mortgage still has to be paid.

This insurance pays out 75% of her monthly income less any social welfare entitlements until her return to work or her pension kicks in. There are several options but the premiums paid attract tax relief – the only insurance policy that does outside of non-assignable life cover within a pension plan – at her marginal rate. Worth considering but would have to be budgeted for.

Buildings insurance will also be needed and the lender’s interest noted on the policy. She may want cover on what little furnishings and personal possessions she has. This can be incorporated into the insurance policy. In all cases, she should shop around for this.

Shopping around also should include the legal fees – simply because so and so has looked after generations of your family down the years is no longer acceptable if they are more expensive. Better in her pocket! Best of luck to you both. 

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