A house is pictured below the logo of the Asian Real Estate Association of America.
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News; Shutterstock

Housing gaps remain in Asian communities 

A new report from AREAA says Asian homeownership rates trail those of non-Hispanic whites and are comparable to equal-earning Black and Hispanic communities.

March 19, 2023
4 minutes

Key points:

  • Income levels do not necessarily correlate with homeownership levels in AANHPI subgroups.
  • Of the subgroups analyzed, only Chinese and Vietnamese homeownership rates exceeded the national rate.
  • AREAA will use the report to lobby in Washington, D.C., for legislation to help close the homeownership gap.

The homeownership rate for Asian households in middle- and lower-income levels lags behind the rate for non-Hispanic whites with equal incomes, and is comparable to rates in Black and Hispanic communities.

That's just one of the findings of the 2023 State of Asia America report, released this week by the Asian Real Estate Association of America at the group's Northeast Regional Retreat in New York.

The extensive report, created with RE/MAX and Freddie Mac, looks at homeownership rates of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities and breaks those numbers down further by specific subgroups, income levels and regions.

Some of the key findings include:

Higher income levels do not necessarily boost homeownership rates

Increases in income were not always enough to spur homeownership, particularly in the more expensive West and Northeast regions. Based on 2021 data, Korean communities had an 18% increase in household income, but of those families, only 3% can afford a home in the West, and 7% can afford a home in the Northeast. Findings were similar for other subgroups who saw an increase in annual household income.

Three states captured more than half of all AANHPI relocators

Washington, Florida and Virginia generated 57% of all AANHPI inbound migration from 2010-2019. By region, The top states with positive AAPI net migration included Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, and California in the West; Kansas, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa in the Midwest; Connecticut and Massachusetts in the Northeast; and Florida, Virginia, and Georgia in the South.

Income and homeownership rates among AANHPI ethnicities vary widely

About half of the groups studied had incomes below the U.S. median family income. Homeownership rates ranged from a low of 33% (Nepalese) to a high of 69.2% (Vietnamese). Only Vietnamese and Chinese Americans exceeded the nation's 66% homeownership rate.

The State of Asia America report also broke down homeownership rate by sub-population in each geographical area:

  • In the West, Japanese homeownership was at 72%, followed by Chinese at 68%, Vietnamese at 65%, and Filipino at 62%.

  • In the Midwest, Vietnamese led the way at 73%, followed by Filipino at 72%, Hawaiian at 66%, and Chinese at 61%.

  • In the Northeast, Vietnamese at 68% was followed by Filipino at 63%, Chinese at 62%, and Asian Indian at 61%.

  • In the South, Vietnamese had the highest homeownership rate at 75%, followed by Filipino and Chinese both at 71%, and Asian Indian at 65%.

"The surprising thing for me was seeing the high homeownership rate across the various regions in the United States by the Vietnamese community, especially when you compare this to the household income, which is modest compared to the other Asian subgroups," Kurt Nishimura, president of the Asian Real Estate Association of America, told Real Estate News.  

On the flip side, Nishimura said a concerning aspect of the report involved the continued low homeownership rate of the Native Hawaiian subgroup. In this year's report, only 55% of Native Hawaiian households own their homes.

"This is a systematic problem we have shown in the past [and] we are working on solutions," Nishimura said. "The Native Hawaiian subgroup live in an extremely supply-constrained market and have a hard time competing for the existing homes available against investors."

The State of Asia America report breaks down the many subgroups of the AANHPI population, and that's out of necessity, according to Nishimura, given their cultural, political, income and geographic differences.

"The report does a great job explaining the need for data disaggregated for the AANHPI community," he said. "This information is vital in coming up with our Three-Point Plan for this year as we prepare to head to Washington D.C."

Lobbying for change

That plan, detailed in the report, includes supporting legislation in three areas: fair housing; appraisal equity; and advancing equity, justice, and opportunity for those in the AANHPI community.

AREAA will take the report to its Diversity and Fair Housing Summit May 17-19 in Washington, D.C., where members will meet with legislators to promote policies to advance homeownership among Asian Americans.

"Unfortunately, the general public still sees Asians as one monolithic group and makes blanket assumptions about the housing needs for the entire community," Nishimura said.

"By disaggregating the data, the real story is revealed to what is truly happening. There continues to be a large gap in the homeownership rate within the subgroups. In addition, there is still a tremendous gap in the homeownership rate compared to the national average of the Caucasian majority," he added, pointing to factors like a limited credit history or short work histories due to a high rate of entrepreneurship in the community. 

"These are areas where AREAA can have a huge impact by providing valuation education and resources to the AANHPI community," said Nishimura.

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