December 5, 2019

The Bank of Mom & Dad is Open - and it's Affecting Homeowners' Retirement

SAN FRANCISCO — Dec. 5, 2019 — Parents with adult children are tightly linked financially, new research from home co-investing company Unison shows. The connections run deep—and in some cases, their children threatening parents’ retirement plans.

Unison CEO Thomas Sponholtz said, “Of course parents want to help their children, but it’s worrisome that so many are putting their own retirement security at risk by doing so, especially considering that most American baby boomers are already severely undersaved for their own retirement. These results are yet another example that we need to present consumers with new solutions that enable to buy and own homes while meeting their other financial goals, including a secure retirement.”

92% of American homeowners have supported their adult children financially

Just 8 percent of American homeowners with adult children say they’ve never helped their adult children financially and more than half (53%) currently provide some form of financial support.

At 70%, tuition tops the list of things that American homeowners have helped or are helping their adult children with, but parents are helping their children with everything from transportation to student debt to groceries, and moms are helping more than dads:

67% for other general expenses

63% men vs. 71% women

64% for transportation

56% with groceries

46% men vs. 63% women

53% with car insurance

47% men vs. 57% women

52% with medical insurance

48% men vs. 55% women

41% with student debt

In addition to providing financial help, parents are sharing resources with their kids.

Almost 60% of homeowners (53% of men and 64% of women) have shared or are sharing their home and more than a third (36%) of homeowners with adult children have an adult child currently living with them; of those, more than half (53%) say that child has lived with them for 5 years or longer.

57% are helping by sharing their cellphone plan

51% men vs. 62% women

25% are helping by sharing their streaming plan

20% men vs. 28% women

Homeownership is a shared financial commitment

Parents want their child to own a home: 79% of parent homeowners say it’s important their child(ren) own their own home. And, they’ll pony up cash to help them do so, likely in part because they themselves received financial help.

22% of American homeowners received financial help when purchasing a home (19% received help for the down payment and another 4% received help with monthly mortgage payments, mostly from their parents).

22% of American homeowners have helped someone else (mostly their children) purchase a home (16% provided money for the down payment and another 6% helped with the monthly mortgage payment).

18% of parents with a millennial child helped that child purchase a home.

11% of American homeowners said one of the top three things they value most about their home is that it’s something to leave to their kids.

That shared commitment is affecting parents’ finances, and it’s having a bigger impact on women

Fully half of parents who help their adult child(ren) financially say doing so has adversely affected their own personal finances and retirement planning. Parents who help their adult children have drawn from a savings account/CD (41%), 401(k)/IRA/retirement fund (8%), taken out loans (8%), or tapped home equity (5%), but most (47%) say they just haven’t been able to save the way they need to.

One in ten American homeowners who aren’t confident in their retirement savings say they haven’t been able to save enough because they’ve been supporting their adult child(ren) financially. Among boomers this climbs to 17% and for parents of millennials, it’s even worse, with nearly a quarter (23%) of those who aren’t confident in their retirement savings saying it’s because they’ve been supporting their adult kids.

The financial impact of parenthood is felt disproportionately by moms: 55 percent of women say helping their adult child has affected their personal finances, vs. 44 percent of men, and 10 percent of women say they’ve gone into debt to help their adult child, vs. 6 percent of men.

Yet, dads say they’re willing to go farther:

23 percent of home-owning dads say they’d delay their retirement or dip into their retirement savings to help their child(ren) own a home vs. 17 percent and 16 percent of moms, respectively.

“We need to develop more solutions that enable all generations to achieve their financial goals,” said Sponholtz. “Unison’s HomeOwner product can help parents access the equity they’ve accumulated in their homes, while our HomeBuyer product helps their kids buy with less down. We believe new ways of buying and owning homes can benefit everyone.”


From August 16 to 23, 2019 Unison conducted an online survey with data collection and sample provided by Dynata. The survey questioned 2,000 US adults from a national sample who are current homeowners. Respondents were required to have a household income of at least $50k or above, to have been a homeowner for at least 10 years, and to have not yet retired.