The 'Other' Market: Reaching the Asian Community

November 12, 2012

Jim Park has a category problem. When listening to people talking about diversity, the president of the Asian Real Estate Association of America notices that after they address white, black and Hispanic people, they hit a wall.

“The last category usually is ‘other.’ Well, the ‘other’ community has a lot of people in it,” he told attendees Friday morning at the Diversity Forum during the 2012 REALTORS® Conference & Expo. And as of the 2010 Census, 17.3 million of those people in the United States are of East and South Asian descent.

“The Asian-American community was actually the fastest-growing in the country” in the last decade, Park said. The latest Census projections put the population at 41 million by 2050.

Park also pointed out to forum attendees that “the growth of the population is happening in areas that you just don’t expect.” For example, the number of Asians living in the Southeastern U.S. has increased 67 percent in the last ten years.

Park explained why Asians as a whole are a great target market for REALTORS®.

“Household income of the Asian community has been higher than other households, [which] also bodes well for homeownership. They’re looking to buy not only first homes, but second homes as well,” Park said. "If you had a client base with [this kind of purchasing power], would you call them ‘the others’?”

Park noted that “the Asian community, like other communities in this market, took a hit early on.” But he added that the homeownership rate in this community has stabilized to pre-recession levels.

“We’re back after taking a big hit,” he said. “It speaks to the desire for home ownership, the desire to have a stake in America.”

For REALTORS® who want to help fulfill that desire, Park recommended against sending direct marketing to Chinatown.

“Asian-Americans are more likely to live in non-Asian communities,” he said. “We’re kind of scattered, [and] from a business standpoint, it’s a challenge.”

Instead, he recommended creating places where Asians want to live. As an example, Park noted Asians tend to prefer buying new properties, so real estate professionals should reach out to other stakeholders in the real estate industry to help them better understand such preferences.

“We have to talk to the builders and say, ‘This is why it matters,’” he said. “The demographic shift is impacting the market right now. It’s the reality we all face. You can say it’s a challenge, but really it’s a great opportunity.”

—Meg White, REALTOR® Magazine