This is the danger of helping your Gen Y kids buy a house

When you look at house prices in markets like Toronto, Vancouver and surrounding areas, you have to wonder about the extent to which parents are helping their adult kids save a down payment. Now, we have an indication. A recent survey by the international bank HSBC found that 37 per cent of millennial home buyers got some financial help from parents.

Here's why that's a bad idea in some cases. According to the HSBC survey, 21 per cent of millennials who recently bought a house borrowed from family after buying to cover unexpected costs. See what you're doing, parents? You're helping your kids into a financial obligation they may not be ready to take on.

I also wonder about the finances of parents giving down payment money to kids. If parents have their retirement savings well in hand, it's fine. But parents should not endanger their own financial well-being to help their kids buy a house, particularly if this help involves taking on debt.

Finally, let's give some millennials credit for a novel way of saving a down payment. Just over one in five reported moving back in with parents to save for a deposit. I like this idea – if you're driven to save for a home, why not explore all options to save as much as you can for a down payment? Even if you pay your parents rent, it should still be less than the exorbitant costs renters are paying in Toronto.

The survey was conducted last fall and involved 1,000 Canadians aged 18 and older. Millennials are people born between 1981 and 1998.