Some 18 first-time buyers a week took a step on to the housing ladder in 2017 thanks to family members taking out equity release loans, Retirement Advantage found.
This equates to one in 40 (2.6%) of the 36,825 equity release plans taken out last year.
With over £3bn taken out in equity release nationally last year, loans taken out to help first-time buyers were worth an estimated £79m.
Alice Watson, head of product and marketing at Retirement Advantage, said: “With the growth in equity release in recent years, we’ve seen people are not only using equity release to help support them in retirement or clear outstanding debt, but increasingly also to pass on an early inheritance to help their relatives onto the property ladder.
“With higher house prices making home ownership a greater challenge for this generation of first-time buyers, it is little surprise that more relatives are passing on the benefits they’ve received from having greater equity to the next generation.
“It also pays testament to the fact that many are increasingly at ease with viewing their assets holistically and tapping into their property wealth, so they can see it enjoyed by their relatives during their lifetimes.
“If house prices continue to rise and more people view using property wealth in this way as a norm, equity release could become a significant route to home ownership in the coming years.”
Jon Tweed, head of sales for lifetime mortgages at One Family, added: “This comes down to moving away from when equity release was traditionally used, and seen as only being for, supplementing retirement income.
“It’s often overlooked but as well as releasing equity it can be used for purchases. Now about 10% of our customers use equity release to help their family buy properties.
“People are now more active in retirement and purchase properties to downsize and also help their children and grandchildren buy.”