You’ve found the perfect new house for you and your family. Three bedrooms. Vaulted ceilings. A spacious kitchen with a hidden spot for the trash can.
Only one problem remains – the deposit. While you can get into a new, durable manufactured home for about $5,000, you do need some deposit.
That’s why many people turn to family or close personal friends to help them make the jump from apartment living to own their own home. In fact, as more and more housing becomes less and less affordable, many millennials and Gen Z adults find themselves in this pickle, so you aren’t alone.
While it can be an awkward conversation, it doesn’t have to be if you take the time to plan out your thoughts and develop a solid repayment plan.
Here are 13 steps to make it simple and easy to ask a relative or friend to help you achieve the American dream of homeownership.
- Know your finances – You don’t want to go to mom or dad asking for money if you don’t know exactly where your money is going and how much you need. Before approaching them, look at your finances. How are you spending your money? Write out a budget. If you see that you are overspending in non-necessary categories, such as clothing or eating out, make changes now. You want to present to your family that you are financially responsible. Regardless of your housing arrangements, a budget is a basic to-do that will pay off long term.
- This isn’t the time to approach your great Aunt Sally – You don’t want to approach people you don’t have a solid relationship with. This is, no doubt, a big ask. You should be leaning on people who love and appreciate you, not someone who hasn’t seen you since your 16th birthday.
- Consider their income too – This needs to be a mutually beneficial situation. If you ask someone who is struggling to make ends meet themselves, you are much more likely to hear a “no.” Plus, it may look like you are pressuring them. That’s not an ideal situation to avoid family drama.
- The ask – This isn’t a drive-by conversation to have in passing. While it can be conducted via email or telephone, the optimal time and location is face-to-face when you are alone and have time to have an in-depth discussion. Share with them the reasons you need the loan, how you intend to use it to better your life and how you plan to pay them back.
- Be specific – This isn’t the time to use round numbers. You don’t want to ask too low or too high. Show them your financing paperwork so they understand exactly how much you need to achieve this dream.
- Explain in detail your repayment plan – Establish how long you will take to pay it back and in what increments. This will prevent misunderstands that can lead to arguments and hurt feelings down the road. If you are asking a family member, you can bring up the idea of paying them back in non-monetary ways as well, such as by offering your services for something they need as well. The worst they can do is turn you down.
- Interest? – It’s polite to offer to pay some interest. This gives the person you are borrowing from an incentive to help you beyond the good feeling of doing something nice. Currently, savings accounts don’t have very high-interest rates, so even a 2% interest rate will provide them with some nice income.
- What happens if you miss you a payment – Sure, you don’t plan on missing any payments, but what happens if you do? Put a consequence in place so the person you are speaking with understands you take this seriously. It could be that you double up the next month. Or you might offer to do a chore for them. Just make it something you can follow through on achieving.
- Sign on the dotted line – Print out a promissory note. This is a simple form that details what you are borrowing at what interest rate and with what repayment plans. This keeps everything on the up-and-up and prevents misunderstandings later.
- Don’t wait – Life happens. If you lose your job or incur sudden medical debt, be open and honest with the person you borrowed from. Now, this doesn’t extend to you wanting a vacation or a new car (unless you need transportation for work). Explain to them what happened and how you would like to restructure the loan. Keep the lines of communication open and honest.
- Don’t bring it up at Christmas – The loan is a business arrangement. You don’t need to bring it up often in your relationship or when you are hanging out as a family. That’s a sure way to make things feel weird. Also, don’t expect that borrowing money won’t have some impact on your relationship, so try to minimize it.
- Watch your social – When you ask someone for money because you have a serious need, they won’t want to see you on Facebook or Instagram living the big life and splurging. It shows you didn’t take their loan seriously, and you may not make the loan repayments seriously.
- Remember the love – First and foremost, you are family or close friends. That needs to stay top-of-mind. Don’t let this loan come between you. Stay in communication. Keep them updated. Follow through on your promises.
Asking a family member for a loan is a serious step, but it is one many people undertake to take the big jump into homeownership.
If you are ready to own your vaulted ceilings and spacious kitchen, check out some options here.