Kids Buying Their First House?

Buying 1st HomeThe do’s and don’ts of helping your adult children buy their first home.

Just last month, I had an old friend call me about his son and daughter-in-law.

“They’re ready to buy, Desty,” he said. “And we want to help them look at their first house.”

First-time homebuyers finding a home in today’s market: great idea. Parents helping them look for a time: potentially great — and potentially disastrous.

As a parent myself, I remember all of the big milestones of my children’s lives; heading to high school, then off to college, then starting careers. Just like we have to temper ourselves as parents to give too much unsolicited advice during these big life changes, we need to do the same when our children want to buy their first home. Having watched these situations before, I’ve found three things parents should do – and three things they should avoid – when their children ask for home-buying advice.

1. Do know their budget

Nine times out of ten, parents helping their adult children look at homes have more money in the bank, and usually better credit scores. When your child tells you their budget (based on their income and loan pre-approval), they need your help sticking to it. Help them to cross off homes on the list they can’t afford. After all, they don’t need you driving them into a purchase that won’t end well.

2. Do know their priorities

If they’re unmarried or married without children, a four bedroom home might not make sense.  Likewise, if they are expecting or already have children, rooms and location (for purposes of school districts) might be higher on their list.

3. Do know their Ty Pennington-esque abilities

If your children aren’t afraid to rip out some drywall, they can handle a fixer-upper. If they call you every time a light bulb burns out, ask them questions that will make them think if a fixer-upper is right for them. (Remember, asking questions is always better than giving opinions and will get them to think exactly what you’re thinking, with a lot nicer tone.)

And the don’ts…

1. Don’t blatantly insult any homes at the first showing

I watched a young couple several years ago walk into a smaller home in Wauwatosa, as the husband’s mother walked in and quickly dressed down everything about the home, from the old refrigerator to the dated paint colors (both easily fixable). The couple, who ended up buying the home, began to see other things upon entering; they knew it needed some minor cosmetic work, but saw what it could be. And in addition, the negativity they saw made them not want to ask their mother questions in the process. So always ask questions, but always check the biting commentary at the door.

2. Don’t call your Realtor if they’re working with someone else

I’ve been on both sides of this; a parent has a friend who is a realtor — or vice versa — and they don’t like who they’re working with. Remember, they could have already signed a buyer agency agreement, so bringing someone else into the equation isn’t only unethical or distrustful of your children’s judgment; it could be breaking the rules. If you have ideas on who should be representing them, ask questions and give advice when they ask follow up questions, but do your best not to judge.

3. Don’t tell them to “keep looking for the perfect home” when they’ve already found it

So many times, a young couple will think they have found the right place, but for whatever reason (the abundance of homes on the market, the lack of a minor “want,” or just general anxiety), they’re afraid to pull the trigger. Don’t tell them to make another long list with their Realtor and keep looking; help them see the light at the end of the tunnel, and help them understand when it’s time to pull the trigger.

These are some of the biggest things I see over and over again as a Realtor, but trust me, there are plenty more. If you ever have questions about your children and their stepping out of your nest and into their own, feel free to reach out to me at anytime at 414-962-8888, or

Desty Lorino has been a Realtor in Shorewood for half of the nearly 50 years he has lived in the village.

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