Black homeownership falls to record low as affordability worsens

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The. U.S. housing market is splitting along racial lines, with black homeownership dropping to the lowest level since at least 1970 — just two years after the Fair Housing Act was passed.

Meanwhile, the overall homeownership rate fell to the lowest level in more than a year as rising prices and a tight supply of starter homes put buying out of reach for many renters.

The rate among black Americans was 40.6% in the second quarter, down from 41.6% a year earlier and the smallest share since the Census Bureau began keeping consistent data almost 50 years ago. The rates for all other minority groups also were down, while the measure for whites climbed slightly to 73.1%.

The gap is growing, in part because renters across the U.S. face a shortage of properties they can afford to buy as starter-home prices soar, year after year. In the second quarter, the homeownership rate for all Americans fell to the lowest since 2017, and the number of new homeowner households grew by only 585,000, a third of the year-earlier level and the fewest since 2006.

"The trends in the homeownership rate reflect a broader racial chasm in who is able to acquire the American dream," Ralph McLaughlin, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic, said in a phone interview. "Black homeowners are much more rare today than any time in the last 50 years."

Blacks have lost ground since the 1968 Fair Housing Act was established to protect minorities against discrimination in the selling, leasing and financing of homes.

The share of Americans who own their homes was 64.1% in the second quarter, the lowest since the third quarter of 2017, according to a Census Bureau report on July 25. It was the second straight decrease, down from 64.2% in the previous three months and 64.3% a year earlier.

This year's drop in mortgage rates and the strong job market have only added to competition for entry-level homes, driving up prices for a limited supply of properties and slowing sales. The median price of a previously owned U.S. home rose 4.3% from a year earlier to a record of $285,700, while sales dropped 2.2%, the National Association of Realtors said this week.

Bloomberg News
Housing affordability Affordable housing Fair Housing Act Housing market Home prices Purchase Purchasing power Census Bureau CoreLogic