"Family wealth is increasingly becoming a prerequisite for homeownership, effectively locking some groups out of the housing market for years while they save for deposits, or even altogether"
Previously known as the 'Bank of Mum and Dad', the term 'Bank of Family' more accurately reflects the contribution of other family members and the breadth and diversity of modern family structures, and according to L&G, it has never been busier.
New research and forecasts from Legal & General and the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that the value of financial support families will give, and the number of home purchases that this will help fund, have both ballooned over the last seven years.
Following an inevitable dip in lending during the Covid-19 lockdowns, the value of financial support offered by families resumed its dramatic growth.
The average amount of Bank of Family money given by family is expected to hit £25,600 this year, while total lending is expected to climb to £8.1 billion in 2023, up 50% on 2020. The total value of properties bought with Bank of Family assistance is predicted to reach £124.6 billion this year.
Family contributions are set to climb to a staggering £10 billion by 2025, according to the research. This increasing reliance on financial support from parents, grandparents, other family, and friends underlines the challenges faced by aspiring buyers who don’t have access to this support.
The majority of recent or prospective Bank of Family recipients said they would have to delay their home purchase without financial help from loved ones. 21% say they would have to delay their purchase by more than five years and one in 10 first-time buyers would not be able to buy a home without assistance from the Bank of Family.
First-time buyers remain the most reliant on direct financial support
In 2023, the Bank of Family will provide support for 47% of house purchasers under the age of 55, and 58% of financial support from the Bank of Family currently goes to first-time buyers. These groups are major recipients of Bank of Family funding, likely because they are comprised of buyers who might otherwise struggle to save the necessary deposit for home purchase.
Research found that 77% of buyers receiving family assistance directed at least a portion of their funding towards a deposit. This is perhaps not surprising given the fact that average household savings have not kept pace with large rises in deposit requirements, given significant house price inflation.
Families are not just offering monetary aid though. Many are also providing indirect financial support to help loved ones boost their savings pot.
For example, 31% of parents and grandparents have welcomed adult family members to live with them to make it easier to save for a deposit, while a further 37% would be willing to house their adult children in the future.
Legal & General estimates that buyers save an average of £24,900 when living with family members, which they can put towards their deposit. However, this support is likely another key factor exacerbating the gap between those with and those without family wealth when it comes to homeownership – not only does this support rely on households being able to afford additional residents, but also having the space to adequately house them.
Bernie Hickman, CEO, Legal & General Retail commented: “Family wealth is increasingly becoming a prerequisite for homeownership, effectively locking some groups out of the housing market for years while they save for deposits, or even altogether. While family gifting has always played a prominent role in the UK housing market, our study shows that the value of those contributions has risen by more than a quarter on pre-pandemic levels.
“An increasing reliance on family members isn’t only an issue for those seeking to buy – it is important to acknowledge the financial strain it can place on the giver, particularly if they are undertaking this commitment without financial advice. By dipping into savings and pensions, family members may be compromising on their own retirement incomes. A housing system which relies too heavily on gifted deposits not only perpetuates inequality today but could create risks for the older generations of the future.”
Bank of Family keeps London buyers afloat
Bank of Family support is also highly regional, with over two-thirds (67%) of all homeowners in London receiving parental support to purchase their homes. Bank of Family recipients in London received £30,200 on average to support their transaction, only beaten by those in the East of England who received an average of £32,100.
However, elsewhere aspiring buyers are less reliant on the Bank of Family. In the East Midlands and West Midlands, people received the least on average from friends and family, at £20,000 and £19,800 in each region, respectively.
The family lending and gifting patterns revealed in the report often reflect regional variances in house prices and affordability, as well as income and wealth inequality, across the UK. These disparities have been analysed in more detail in Legal & General’s Rebuilding Britain Index, which found that the ratio of average house prices as a percentage of income is highest in London, followed by the South East, South West, and East of England.
Housing inequality exacerbated by the pandemic and rising living costs
Another factor contributing to the ongoing rise in Bank of Family lending is the enduring impact of the pandemic and the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, as outlined in Legal & General’s Deadline to Breadline report.
According to the report, high levels of inflation have meant that one in three households has less than £500 left after paying for their basic outgoings each month and 6% of households are left with nothing.
Bernie Hickman concludes: “Our latest Bank of Family research shows just how the high cost of housing, particularly in London and other major cities, continues to shape the UK. There are clear differences between urban and rural areas, and the lack of affordable housing in some areas is a legacy that will impact many people’s lives for years to come.
“As an organisation, we’re committed to improving the UK’s housing market and making sure as many people as possible have a fair opportunity to control their own future.
“This includes a £32bn investment in UK towns and cities and a commitment to increase the UK’s affordable housing by 20%. We’re also investing heavily in innovative new routes to homeownership, as we’ve shown with our support for Generation Home.
“Gifting a deposit is an incredibly kind and generous thing for those who can afford it, but it shouldn’t be a necessary part of the home buying process.”