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On the House: For minorities, there's still inequality in the housing market

Caitlin McCabe, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Home and Consumer News

That can be problematic for minority homeowners who want to build wealth, Zillow's data and other studies point out. According to one study by Brandeis University, homes in black neighborhoods do not see the same appreciation rates as homes in white neighborhoods. One reason for that, the study said: a lack of demand from wealthy white households, which, in turn, stifles home price appreciation rates in those neighborhoods.

At the same time, Zillow found, minority homeowners were disproportionately affected by the recession. While many homeowners across the United States went through foreclosure or were left underwater -- owing more for their homes than their homes were worth -- that negative equity rate has dipped to just 10 percent nationally in the last year. However, for black communities, Zillow found, nearly 20 percent of homeowners had homes underwater in the third quarter of 2016. For Hispanic communities, it was 12 percent.

In majority-white communities, that rate was less than 10 percent.

Minority home shoppers also face financial barriers more often than white populations, the Zillow report found. African Americans and Hispanics are less likely to apply for a mortgage and are more likely to be denied when they do. They also have more difficulty, the study showed, cobbling together a down payment. African American and Hispanic buyers struggle more often with all aspects of financing a home, from pre-approval to the underwriting process. And minorities more frequently struggle to find the right real estate agent to help them.

"In general, I think (minorities) have to work harder to get the kind of services that whites get in the normal course of things," Charles said. Minorities "more often encounter steering (from agents) who might say, 'No, I think you might like this neighborhood better.' ... We know there is still housing market discrimination that takes a different form now."

Given all that, have minority home shoppers grown more pessimistic about owning a home?


Not at all, the Zillow study found. In fact, minorities aspire to be homeowners more than white residents, with nearly three-quarters of minorities thinking about owning their home one day, compared with 64 percent of Caucasians. And, the study found, they are more likely to believe in the American dream.

About The Writer

Readers may email Caitlin McCabe at or write her at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia PA 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies.

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