As housing prices in Canada continue to hover near record high levels, a new survey reveals that a growing number of Canadian parents plan to help their children buy a home, even though it will have repercussions for their own financial future.

The Housing Affordability Survey, a Leger poll of more than 1,500 Canadians commissioned by FP Canada, reveals that half (48%) of Canadian parents with children under the age of 18 intend to assist their children with the purchase of their first home. The survey follows FP Canada’s 2017 Children and Financial Dependence Survey, in which a lower proportion of those with kids under 18—43%—said they plan to help their children purchase their first home. 

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“ With house prices at unprecedented levels in many regions of the country, it’s nearly impossible for many young Canadians to get into the market without assistance from their parents. ”

Among parents with children over the age of 18, 24% say they have already helped their kids with the purchase of a home. Older parents (55 or older) are more likely to have assisted their children with the purchase of a home (27% vs. 15% of those younger than 55). Regionally, those in Atlantic Canada (32%) and Manitoba and Saskatchewan (32%) are slightly more likely to have helped with the purchase.

Four-in-10 expect that helping children buy a house will delay their retirement

A growing proportion of Canadians expect this financial assistance to have repercussions for their future. Specifically, four-in-10 (39%) say they expect that helping their children buy a home will postpone their retirement, up from 27% in 2017. Three-in-10 (30%) say they plan to tap into their retirement savings to help with the purchase, up from 21% two years ago. More than one-in-four (26%) say they plan to tap into their home equity to help their kids, up from 23% in 2017. Parents living in an urban area are significantly more likely than those in suburban or rural areas to say they will dip into retirement savings or home equity. 

An increasing number of parents also expect the financial support to impact their debt levels: 34% say they expect helping their children buy a home will prevent them from paying off debt, up from 22% in 2017.

“With house prices at unprecedented levels in many regions of the country, it’s nearly impossible for many young Canadians to get into the market without assistance from their parents. That’s putting pressure on parents to take drastic steps to help their children buy a home, including tapping into their retirement savings or their own home equity,” says Kelley Keehn, author, personal finance educator and Consumer Advocate for FP Canada. “Even though it’s natural to want to help your children, it’s essential to carefully consider the impact on your own financial security before helping with such a huge purchase. A CFP professional can help you build a plan to balance all your financial priorities.”

Young Canadians also relying on parents for help with rent costs

As a sign of the broad affordability challenges in the Canadian housing market, those who are renting rather than buying a home are also depending on their parents for financial assistance. More than one-in-three (36%) parents with children under 18 say they plan to assist their children with the cost of rent, and 35% of parents with children over 18 say they have already assisted with the cost of rent. Those in Atlantic Canada (48%) and Alberta (41%) are more likely to have helped with the cost of rent.

The full results of the Housing Affordability Survey can be found here.


About the Survey

Leger conducted a survey of 1,557 Canadians between April 26-29, 2019 using its online panel. The margin of error for this study was +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20. 


For more information on balancing your financial priorities and supporting your adult children, watch Loaning money to your children and read 4 ways to get your adult children on the road to financial independence.

For more information on home ownership, read a home of your own: 5 things to consider.