Homeownership by Race and Ethnicity

Data from the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy and Homeownership (CPS/HVS) survey show that the US homeownership rate increased to 63.9 percent in the third quarter of 2017, up 0.4 percentage points from the third quarter of 2016. A series of blogs on Eye on Housing cover this topic along with CPS/HVS data on vacancies and household formations.

Also produced from the CPS/HVS survey is a homeownership rate for “all minorities”, which also improved slightly, going from 46.6 percent in the third quarter of 2016 to 46.8 percent in the third quarter of 2017 (Figure 1).

Figure 2 breaks down the homeownership rate by race and ethnicity. From 2004 to 2016 (3rd quarter 2004 to 3rd quarter 2016), all groups experienced rate declines, but the drop was largest among black households, which experienced a 7.1 percentage point decline to 41.9 percent.  During the same period, the white homeownership rate declined by 4.1 percentage points, while the “other” households (includes Asian, Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, American Indian, and Alaska Native households) rate declined by 3.5 percentage points, and the Hispanic homeownership rate by 1.7 percentage points.

While both the overall and the “all minority” homeownership rates improved slightly between 2016 and 2017 (3rd quarter 2016 to 3rd quarter 2017), homeownership rates by race and ethnicity varied. The homeownership rate among “other” households rose 1.8 percentage points, compared to 0.8 percentage points among black households, and 0.6 percentage points among white households. On the other hand, the Hispanic homeownership rate declined by 0.9 percentage points.

The differences in homeownership rates by race and ethnicity are clear, with many socio-economic and demographic factors driving them. A previous blog looks at the factors driving homeownership rates at the county level. Examining some of these variables, such as age and income, provides insight and implications:

Age

Age is a key component in the context of homeownership, particularly because of the importance of first-time home buyers, who are typically in their early to mid-thirties. Figure 3 shows that a larger share of Hispanic (27%), other (27%), and black (25%) populations are 18 to 34, the years leading up to the age of the typical first-time home buyer. On the other hand, a larger share of the white population (34%) falls into the 55+ category, a group more likely to already consist of homeowners. This indicates that going forward, minority buyers have the potential to drive increases in the overall homeownership rate.

Income

On the other hand, income differences (another variable in the previous blog’s analysis) suggest that homeownership gains for certain minority groups may be difficult to achieve. Figure 4, which breaks out “other” households, shows that median household income varied significantly by race and ethnicity: for example, while Asian (non-Hispanic) households had a median of $96,000 in household income in 2016, black (non-Hispanic) households had a median of only $49,000. The large income differences by race and ethnicity, coupled with today’s environment of rapidly appreciating home values, helps explain why homeownership may be out of reach for certain groups.



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