Zillow: Latinx Homeownership Rate ‘Decades Away’ From Catching Up With Whites

The nation’s Latinx population is buying homes are a higher rate than the overall U.S. population, beginning to close a gap between the Hispanic and white homeownership rate that has tripled since the start of last century. But despite these recent gains, the homeownership gap between Latinx and whites will take “decades” to close at the current pace, said Zillow Inc., Seattle.

“In the face of a seemingly insurmountable disparity, the good news is that the Latinx homeownership rate is climbing and, as a group, they want to own homes,” said Skylar Olsen, Zillow director of economic research. “If that trend is supported, it will help build up the Latinx middle class and create a strong driver for the whole economy. Regardless of race or ethnicity, a growing diversity of housing options is essential for the wealth building and health of all communities.”

The Zillow analysis said the trend in Latinx homeownership is the start of a recovery for Latinx households, who were harder hit by the Great Recession because much more of those households’ wealth is in their homes. But Zillow said affordability and racial inequity have combined to compound a disparity throughout the past 12 decades.

The study noted the typical Latinx household in the U.S. earns 75.7% of the typical white household income, and the typical Latinx household wealth is only 12.2% of the typical white household wealth. That means Latinx households carry a far greater share (64.7% vs. 38.1%) of their wealth in their home, which made those families harder hit when home values nosedived during the Great Recession.

The homeownership rate gap sat at 25.8 percentage points just four years ago. “Despite recent gains, the gap–sitting at 24.7 percentage points in 2018–will take decades to close if the current pace holds,” Zillow said.

Zillow noted at the start of the 20th century, the gap was roughly eight percentage points. It widened significantly during and after each World War, and again during the Great Recession. Of all the homes foreclosed upon between January 2007 and December 2015, 19.4% were in Latinx communities–a particularly high number when you consider that only 9.6% of all homes in the country are in Latinx neighborhoods, according to a Zillow┬« analysis. By contrast, 81.2% of homes are in white communities, and they accounted for 66.4% of foreclosures during that time.

The report said in 2007, near the height of the housing bubble, a home accounted for 73.1% of the typical Latinx homeowner’s total wealth, compared to just 46.5% for the typical white homeowner. Because their homes accounted for a much larger share of Latinxs’ household wealth, they had fewer outside assets to draw on when home values plummeted and they owed more than their homes were worth. Most people who went through foreclosure were not allowed back in the market for seven years, which meant many Latinxs missed out on the post-recession rebound in home values.

“Even today, discrimination concerns persist,” Zillow said. “About 16% of Latinxs say they’ve been treated differently in their search for housing because of their race. And Latinx home buyers are especially likely to mention discrimination as a concern when trying to qualify for a mortgage: 54% expressed concern, compared to 30% of white buyers.”

Mortgage denial rates among Latinxs are falling, however, Zillow said, dipping to 15.5% in 2016 for conventional loans, down from 31.3% in 2008. “Still, the current rate is nearly double the 8.1% denial rate for white mortgage applicants, which is likely due in part to differences in income, debt levels, credit scores and savings,” the report said.