Six in 10 mortgage applicants have received a gift from 'the bank of mum and dad' according to a study by one of the country's leading mortgage brokers.
Gerry Hiney of Park Financial Planning said: "We carried out the study because we are seeing it every day across a wide section of society."
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, he explained how "some are really lucky" but said: "It is creating an uneven playing field for those who cannot ask their parents for help.
"In six out of every 10 applications for first-time buyers, the parent has given a gift - and that gift is unconditional. It's not a loan and the parents have no right to the premises.
"To be honest, the parents are the unsung heroes of the first-time buyer market. Without them, the market would be half the size because people would simply not be able to afford it."
On the amounts applicants are receiving he said: "The average is about €20,000 but we have seen parental gifts go up to €300,000."
Mr Hiney said the advantage is causing confusion among applicants.
"We often get people coming to us saying 'hang on, the girl in the office is on the same money but she was able to buy a property worth far more, how can she do that?' They often think their friend just got a better mortgage but we have to explain they got exactly the same loan - it's just the parent gave them more," he said.
Asked how parents are able to offer financial assistance, Mr Hiney said many are giving inheritance gifts in advance.
"People say their parents want to help them while they are still alive," he said. "So the parent can give them up to €335,000 tax free and then anything above that amount, if they eventually leave more in their will, is taxed at 33pc.
"As far as I can see, parents will do anything to help their children. Some parents will even go and borrow it themselves, but those cases are rare."
On how it is affecting those without similar support he said: "It is making it an uneven playing field for first-time buyers.
"One of the biggest reasons people can't get a deposit together is because rents are so high they are eating at their potential savings."
Meanwhile, despite the fact there has been a 40pc decline in new mortgage lending in April, according to the latest figures from the Central Bank, Mr Hiney says the company is seeing an "unprecedented" number of people inquiring about mortgages in recent months.
"In my 21 years in the business I have never seen anything like it," he said.
His comments come as a recent survey found the majority of prospective home-buyers are planning to buy a property in the next year, despite the interruption to the market as a result of Covid-19.
The study carried out by property website myhome.ie found six out of 10 respondents believed next year would be a good time to buy property, with more than a third (37pc) believing prices will drop by more than 10pc in the next 12 months.
The survey of 1,981 people suggests 68pc of prospective buyers are still planning on buying a new property in the next year.
The proportion of people who believe the Government could do more to help the property sector during Covid-19 was 69pc.
Analysis by the Economic and Social Research Institute also found house prices in Ireland could fall by as much as 12pc due to the Covid-19 crisis over the coming 18 months.