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Pandemic, prejudice influence Asian Americans homebuyers

AREAA homebuyers face roadblocks for the housing market.

Money and success doesn’t always reflect inclusion for Asian and Pacific Island Americans. While the average household income of Asian Americans is 35% higher than the national average, only 60% of Asian Americans are homeowners.  

The Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) provides a breakdown of housing trends in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and shows how the pandemic and hate crimes have influenced Asian Americans when it comes to pursuing homeownership. 

Asian Americans have a household income of $93,759. Pacific Islanders have a household income of $66,464 but only slightly more than 40% are homeowners. 

According to the report, both groups fall far below the national homeownership rate of 65.6% and the non-Hispanic white figure of 73.8%.

Why aren’t these successful people buying homes? For starters, part of the issue could be cultural and language barriers. According to a national CAPACD study, AAPIs are more likely to live in a multigenerational household than their white counterparts. The reasoning for that can be complicated. For some, it’s either a cultural choice or an economic decision. AAPIs in multigenerational households face severe housing cost-burdens and overcrowding concerns when compared to white households.

Communication is another drawback. According to the study, 54% of severely cost-burdened Asian households are limited English proficient compared to 9% of white households that are severely cost-burdened. In a Realtor.com article, it mentioned that many Asian Amercans in the community don’t realize that they don’t need 20% down to purchase homes. They also don’t understand the different loan options available.

AREEA president Amy Kong believes the social issues that challenge Asian Americans is one of the major reasons they don’t pursue homebuying. 

“The challenges we face grew substantially throughout the pandemic, including job losses and an immense increase in hate crimes and subsequent housing discrimination that are forcing so many to stay in their current communities rather than move to new and unfamiliar places,” she said. 

For AAPIs, there’s angst when migrating to other parts of the U.S. because of a lack of familiarity with the area and concern over finding a community that they can bond and grow with.  

AREEA executive director Hope Atuel thinks that the prejudiced acts toward the Asian community, they’re less likely to want to move. 

“There’s the fear of moving to places that don’t have large Asian American communities because of the discrimination and the rise of anti-Asian sentiment,” Atuel said. Of course, real estate professionals are cautioned to avoid a Fair Housing violation when serving AAIP homebuyers. “We’ve heard of people who have turned down job offers because of the fear. Fear can paralyze people.”

A housing trend to keep an eye on is the percentage of AAPIs moving south. Likely because of the warm weather and the lower cost of living compared to the east and west coasts, the south has a high ownership rate at 65%. Some of those southern cities include Dallas (62%), Houston, (69%), Miami (69%) and Atlanta (67%). 

Hating and fear is bad for business. As a real estate professional, you can ease the transition from renter to buyer by providing services, such as a translator, who can work with AAPIs.  

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