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Asian Americans Increase Homeownership Rates, Barriers Persist

June 21, 2021

The Asian American and Pacific Islander population has rapidly increased in the U.S. over the past four decades and is expected to represent an even wider group of homeowners moving forward.

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that the Asian American population will reach 36.8 million, or 9.1% of the U.S. population, by 2060. That would be a significant increase over a population of just 3.6 million in 1980.

Between 1980 and 2019, Asian American households experienced the largest homeownership rate increase of any racial or ethnic group, from 52% in 1980 to 60% in 2019, according to the Urban Institute.

“But like other households of color, Asian American households have faced barriers to homeownership and discrimination in the housing market,” the UI report notes. “Many researchers overlook the historical challenges and structural barriers that Asian [American] communities face, and instead have framed Asian [American] people as hardworking model minorities who are, on aggregate, financially better off than other people of color.”

Even though Asian American populations tend to have higher educational attainment and household income, they still have substantially lower homeownership rates than white households when controlling for income and education, according to the Urban Institute analysis. One reason for this the report posits may be because many Asian American households are located in high-cost states. For example, about 31% of Asian American households are in California and 9% are in New York, according to the Urban Institute. But other barriers may include that Asian American households tend to have lower levels of wealth despite high levels of income, and that may make it more difficult to make a down payment on homes or build equity. Language barriers and discrimination when searching for housing are further roadblocks to homeownership, according to the report. The Urban Institute report cites a recent study that found Asian Americans were shown fewer available properties than their comparably qualified white counterparts, both in the rental and sales markets.

Chart of Asian American ownership rates

©National Association of REALTORS®

“Barriers to homeownership, including limited English proficiency and unequal treatment when searching for housing, will continue to pose significant challenges for future Asian [American] homeowners, especially as we continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic that has disproportionately affected our communities,” write researchers Jung Hyun Choi and Daniel Pang in the Urban Institute report. “Researchers and policymakers will have a critical role in elevating challenges Asian [American] households face in housing and in designing and implementing inclusive solutions that address ongoing racial disparities in the housing market.”