Parents who want to help their offspring buy their first houses should make sure the kids fully understand what mom and dad expect in return.  According to a poll this spring, parents and kids don’t always see eye-to-eye on the subject.

Consumer lending company loanDepot conducted the online survey, which queried 1,000 millennial adults (aged 18 to 38) and 1,000 of their parents.  According to the survey, 68 percent of the parents view their financial support as purely a gift, but only 29 percent of the children see the money as a no-strings-attached present.

Thirty-six percent of the children see the money as a loan that they intend to repay.  But just 11 percent of their parents expect to be repaid, ever.  They even differ as to whether the endowment is part of the kids’ future inheritance: 11 percent of the parents believe it is, compared with just 7 percent of the children.

All of this could lead to clashes, as the kids attempt to repay, but the parents will have none of it.  If the two sides can’t come to an agreement, a family breach could be in the offing.  That’s why it’s important for parents to sit down with adult children before advancing any money on their behalf, making sure they understand and agree to the terms of mom and dad’s largesse.

Another interesting finding: Parents are shifting their financial support from the down payment to other options.  In the past, 65 percent of parents chipped in on the down payment, with 20 percent putting up 90 percent or more of the payment.  But in the future, those percentages are expected to drop significantly.

Going forward, 30 percent of the parents said they would pay some of the kids’ other expenses, including student loans, so the kids can save to buy a house.  Twenty percent will help with closing costs, and 20 percent more will co-sign on the mortgage.

That last option comes with its own can of worms.  Another potentially tricky situation: A third of the parents questioned said the kids can continue living in their basements to save money for a house.

On the flip side, millennial children don’t want to continue living with their parents to save for a house, nor are they interested in getting a second job or asking for money to help offset the cost of a house or a wedding.  Rather, they expect to cut back on entertainment and eating out to save money.

Fewer of the parents surveyed will use their personal savings to finance these gifts and loans going forward.  More are expecting to refinance their own homes to help out the kids, to take out a loan of their own, or sell their personal residence and use the proceeds to help.


The tiny house movement has taken another step toward legitimacy with the opening of a resort in South Cairo, New York.

Called Think BIG!, the 28-acre property in the Hudson Valley features homes designed by Wisconsin-based tiny home builder ESCAPE Homes.  The houses are situated on a cliff that overlooks Catskill Creek in a scenic area with waterfalls and swimming holes.

Despite their small stature, the houses feature flexible floor plans and generous windows.  They have queen-sized beds, full-sized appliances and luxurious bathrooms, plus private patios with a dining table, grill and fireplace.

A personal raw food chef prepares meals for visitors using produce grown at the resort.  In addition, the resort is dog-friendly, featuring a dog park and outdoor dog wash dubbed the “Laundromutt.”

Speaking of little houses, Amazon is now selling a variety of tiny home kits with prices ranging from $3,500 to about $60,000 – and it’s doing it all online.

The concept takes inspiration from past decades, when customers once ordered prefabricated housing kits through catalogs from places like Sears Roebuck.  Now, the process requires a few clicks of the mouse before the new house is purchased online and ready to be delivered.

Of course, the houses – ranging from a 75-square-foot cabin to a 725-square-foot timber-frame cabin with a loft – don’t come with land on which to build them.


If you are against homeowners’ associations, you might want to stick with older houses.  More often than not, new homes are built in communities ruled by these groups.

According to data from the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction, 59.8 percent of all homes started in 2016 were built within properties governed by “formal legal entities created to maintain common areas of a development and to enforce private deed restrictions.”  If you live in such a place, membership is mandatory.

The share of all new homes built within a community or homeowners’ association has been increasing for years.  In 2009, the share was 47.6 percent; in 2010, 48 percent.  Since 2011, more than 50 percent of all homes have been built in properties run by an association.  In the Bureau’s Mountain Division, 82.3 percent of all new houses were built in association-run communities.  But in the New England Division, the share was a mere 29.5 percent.


Lew Sichelman has been covering real estate for more than 30 years.  He is a regular contributor to numerous shelter magazines and housing and housing-finance industry publications.  Readers can contact him at