Asian-American homeownership grows but shows disparities between different ethnic groups

by Timothy Inklebarger

The number of Asian-headed households grew 83% in the past two decades, higher than any other minority group, according to new Zillow research. 

This exceeded the growth of homeownership in Latinx (74%) and Black (23%) households during the same period. 

Asian-American homeownership rose 6% from 2000 to 2019 to 59%, narrowing the gap with the 71% white homeownership rate. Additionally, Asian-owned homes are valued at 3.7% higher than typical home values. 

Asian-Americans are the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the country. Although this increase in homeownership certainly indicates a positive trend, the imbalances in median income and homeownership rates between different Asian ethnic groups show significant economic inequality and inequity. 

In nearly half of the top 50 U.S. metro areas, the typical Asian household income and Asian household poverty rates are higher than the median, signifying the disparity between different ethnic groups. Certain populations of Asian immigrants face unique adversities such as a challenging immigration process, unequal access to opportunities and differing educational backgrounds. A small portion of Asian Americans are also refugees, which often corresponds with higher poverty and lower homeownership rates. 

According to experts at Zillow, the significant dissimilitudes in economic situations and homeownership between Asian-American groups may be explained by their motivations to immigrate to the U.S. A sweeping majority (81%) of Asian-headed households are not born in the U.S., and 21% of Asian immigrants say they move to the U.S. for employment opportunities, compared to 14% for immigrants overall. 

East and Southeast Asian groups have the highest homeownership rates of more than 60%, while homeownership by Pacific Islanders is only 43%. 

Some Southeast and East Asian groups, such as Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese populations, have significantly higher median incomes (approaching $80,000, compared to the national median of $62,187), which would help explain their higher rates of homeownership. 

On the other hand, Pacific Islander homeownership rates are more similar to Black and Latinx rates (about 43% with a median household income of $65,000), even further displaying the contrasting economic climate of different Asian-American ethnic groups. And some East Asian groups (like Mongolian-Americans), only have a 30% rate of homeownership. 

South Asian-Americans (Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Nepalese, Bhutanese and Sri Lankans) have the highest median incomes of any other group (over $110,000) but have a relatively low homeownership rate (55%).

It should be noted that the concentration of Asian Americans in expensive coastal metros like San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles and New York City skews the median income values. However, many of these populations are moving to more affordable cities, keeping up with relocation trends noted throughout the nation across all racial and ethnic groups. 

“As this population continues to grow — faster than any other racial or ethnic group — it will be crucial to recognize the disparities within the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community to understand the opportunities and missed opportunities they are experiencing in the housing market,” said Zillow economist Alexandra Lee in a press release.

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