Differences in homeownership now contribute to differences later. Article one:
American home buyers are older, whiter and wealthier than at any time in recent memory, with first-time buyers accounting for the smallest share of the market in 41 years, the National Association of Realtors found in its annual profile of home buyers and sellers.
White buyers accounted for 88 percent of home sales during the survey period, up from 82 percent during the same period a year earlier, reaching the highest level in 25 years, according to the association’s findings.
The new findings add weight to a hard truth that many young families have experienced as they struggle to save money to buy a home, competing in the most brutally competitive housing market in modern history: They have been elbowed out by buyers who have something they might never have — all cash…
“This is a feedback mechanism that can potentially supercharge wealth inequality in our economy,” said Austin Clemens, the director of economic measurement policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, who studies housing inequities. “It’s hitting younger people, it’s hitting lower income people. And we also find that this is hitting Hispanic and Black households especially hard.”
Though loan denials for both Black and white applicants have slowed since the 2008 financial crisis, the gap in denial rates for Black and white people applying for home loans has widened significantly. Today, 15 percent of Black applicants are denied mortgages while 6 percent of white applicants are denied the home loans, according to a report by the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, an advocacy organization for Black real estate professionals.
The housing market remains persistently and disproportionately challenging for Black prospective home buyers, the report’s writers say, although Black homeownership has been inching forward since the passage of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which made it illegal to discriminate based on race or religion in all aspects of home sales and rentals. The full report will be released on Wednesday.
Nearly 45 percent of Black households own their homes, compared with more than 74 percent of white households. But in 1970, the gap in homeownership between Black and white households was about 24 percent. Today, it is 30 percent.
The disparity in homeownership rates, as well as widespread appraisal discrimination, are compounding the massive income gap between Black and white households and thwarting Black Americans’ efforts to create generational wealth, the report notes. In 2020, the average white family held 12 times the wealth of the average Black family, and home equity is the largest source of wealth for both Black and white households, the report says.
If a potential buyer cannot purchase now, this has ramifications for years. And if someone could not purchase decades ago, this has implications right now.
Given the American emphasis on homeownership, even by presidents, I am a little surprised there has been limited public conversation about more assistance for first-time buyers. Are there ways on a broader scale to help people purchase a first home that helps increase equity later? With starter homes in low supply, help is needed. And addressing disparities now could help close gaps later.
Also noting here: good homes are needed even if the primary goal of owning a home is not to generate wealth, a relatively recent shift in how Americans view dwellings. Where people live is tied to all sorts of outcomes and experiences.