Fischer: Mother hen ruling my roost while adult child lives at home
Last night I had a dream that my oldest daughter came into my kitchen and told me she was going to have to let her home go to foreclosure (yes, I even dream about real estate). For some reason, in this dream, I just walked away and then worried about it. For all the dream analysts out there, pray tell, why on this green earth did I walk away? I woke up in a frantic state. I hopped out of bed and ran out of the room to tell her that she most certainly has enough equity to sell the home, even if she were late on her payments, and still walk away with money in her pocket. However, before I even made it to the door, I realized this was not a reality. They are not late on their payments since they do not currently own a home, and she and my son-in-law are temporarily living with me to save a little money so that, one day, they too can realize the dream of homeownership.
As a parent, and as a Realtor, I recognize that we are not in a unique situation. With the rapid rise in the cost of housing, both with rents in addition to purchases, many children have come home to roost as well as save. It is one of the perils to owning a home with a second kitchen in the basement. In fact, many current buyers, especially in my age category (still dapper and vibrant, yet well-seasoned and experienced), include a second kitchen on their wish list; a walk-out basement and extra parking is a bonus as well. This is not necessarily to accommodate the possibility of adult children moving back home, but it also allows for the option of taking in parents or in-laws if needed.
According to The Wall Street Journal, a full 29.5% of adults ages 18-34 years old in Utah are currently living with one or both parents. Nationwide, it is 52%, so Utah seems to hold some grip at least on helping our children vacate the coop.
The way I explain this to my own adult children is this: “We are going to help you create wings.” Following the emphatic and nearly deafening eye roll, I let them know that this is my primary purpose in parenting at this stage of their lives. In other words, you can move in with us on a temporary basis, providing certain conditions are followed. We then, generously, outline these conditions in a contract that must be signed by all parties. This may seem militant to some; however, contracts are very familiar documents to me, and I have found they can provide a good deal of accountability to all parties in agreement. As a side note, and one I really don’t want my adult children knowing about, I have absolutely no legal authority to write a contract. I am not an attorney. However, let’s just keep that little secret between us, shall we?
The contract in question covers what I have termed “the three C’s.” The first relevant section, after the names, dates and property description paragraph, is an outline communicating the clear expectations of both parties. We have certain rules in our home that are non-negotiable. This does not dictate behavior outside the home. In real estate terms, we are each given the right to “quiet enjoyment” of the property. Since it is my property, I get to determine what that includes, but the “tenant” also has a right to a certain amount of privacy. I have adhered to this right of theirs by generously providing doors on both their bathroom as well as their bedroom.
The second “C” encapsulates the expectation of contributions. In this case, we are charging a minimal amount of rent, which is due on the first and late on the 15th (practicing for real life). They are expected to provide their own groceries, and they must always clean up after themselves. I am, admittedly, militant about this. No towels on the floor, no dishes in the sink, and no laundry left in the washer or dryer overnight.
The last section of the contract covers the calendar. Again, in the quest to learn how to fly, it is imperative to set a timeline. While we have no intention of kicking them to the curb if this goal is not realized in the allotted time, the minimal rent will be increasing, somewhat exponentially, each month that this timeline needs to be extended.
We are currently one month into this contract. For the rest of the 29.5% of us, here’s to strong wings and a safe flight path.
Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or email@example.com.