Bridging the Gap on Minority Homeownership

NAR officials say data reinforces need for implementation of key housing policy initiatives to close persistent minority homeownership gaps.

Minority homeownership stubbornly lags behind the national rate, with Black Americans facing some of the toughest hurdles to achieving this essential part of the American Dream, according to the National Association of Realtors®. The homeownership rate for Black Americans (42%) is nearly 30% less than the rate for white Americans (69.8%.) The U.S. homeownership rate stands at 64.2%, with the rates for Asian and Hispanic Americans at 60.7% and 48.1%, respectively.

NAR’s Snapshot of Race & Home Buying in America report examines the homeownership rate among each race in 2019 using American Community Survey data by state and the changes in the homeownership rate by race from 2009 to 2019. Using the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers data from 2020, the report looks into the characteristics of who purchases homes, why they purchase, what they purchase, and the financial background for buyers based on race.

Regarding home affordability nationwide, 43% of Black households can afford to buy the typical home compared to 63% of white households, 71% of Asian households and 54% of Hispanic households, according to the study.

Wide variances in affordability exist by state. For example, more than 60% of Black households can afford to buy a home in Alaska, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Vermont. However, less than a third of Black households can afford to purchase a home in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington state, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia. There are only four states where less than half of white households can afford to buy a home: California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington state. More than half of Asian households can afford to purchase a home in all but six states—California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming—and the District of Columbia.

Multigenerational Living

Nearly a quarter of Asian Americans (23%) and one in five Hispanic Americans (18%) purchased a multi-generational home, with “spending time with aging parents” and “saving money” listed as the primary reasons for those decisions. Fifteen percent of Black Americans and 10% of white Americans bought a multi-generational home as both segments said a top driver was adult children or relatives moving back into the home. Black and Asian Americans were more likely to say that “wanting a larger home that multiple incomes could afford together” was an important reason for buying a multi-generational home.

Tapping Into Retirement Savings

Black Americans (15%) and Hispanic Americans (10%) were three and two times as likely, respectively, than white and Asian Americans (5% each) to tap into their 401(k) or pension funds as a down payment source for a home purchase. Such actions can negatively impact future wealth growth and savings attainment. Conversely, almost four out of 10 white Americans (37%) used the funds from the sale of their primary residence to serve as a down payment for a home, compared to only 21% of Hispanic, 18% of Asian and 17% of Black Americans.

“The residential housing market’s strong performance during the pandemic helped homeowners enjoy a significant increase in wealth via approximately $1 trillion in additional home equity over the last year,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

“However, as indicative of the K-shaped economic recovery, greater numbers of potential first-time homebuyers—many
of whom are minorities—are feeling discouraged by disproportionate job losses. Essentially, they’re being priced out
of owning a home because of rapidly rising home prices resulting from historically low housing inventory. For Black Americans, in general, the greater likelihood of having student loan debt, combined with lower household incomes and accrued savings when compared to the national average, adds to the challenge.”

While NAR believes policy proposals such as the Biden administration’s first-time buyer tax credit of up to $15,000 would help address many of these underlying problems, RealTrends isn’t so sure. To learn why, listen to Steve Murray’s RealTrending Podcast:

View NAR’s Snapshot of Race & Home Buying in America report here:

Tracey C. Velt is managing editor of RealTrends.