90 percent of African Americans said homeownership would be a dream come true. (Photo courtesy:  RE/MAX of Boulder).
Duane Duggan, Realtor and Author, RE/MAX of Boulder
Duane Duggan, Realtor and Author, RE/MAX of Boulder

Every year, Colorado REALTORS® gather for two days in Denver at the Economic Summit and REALTOR® Day at the Capitol. This is an opportunity for Colorado REALTORS® to meet with Colorado legislators and hear a variety of presentations. This year’s meeting featured a “Housing for All – Demographics of Homeownership” panel discussion moderated by Matthew Leprino, a Denver REALTOR® and REColorado board member.

The panel featured:

  • Muriel Williams, National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB)  
  • Michael Lunden, National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP)                                                                                   
  • Lisa Nguyen, Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA)
  • Derek Camunez, National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP)

The group was asked to respond to few questions about various housing issues from a socioeconomic standpoint utilizing available national data about why people from various backgrounds are or are not buying homes and what those hurdles are. The questions covered perceptions of homeownership, the home ownership rate, lending challenges, and discrimination in the home buying process.

What is the perception of homeownership amongst your demographic?

Muriel: 90 percent of African Americans said homeownership would be a dream come true, and more than half were considering buying a home in the next two years.

Michael: 89 percent of the LGBTQ community firmly believes that homeownership is a good investment.

Lisa: Since 2010, Asian Americans have been the most active minority participant in the housing market, confirming that a high percentage believe homeownership is a good investment. (Lisa did not have an exact percentage.)

Derek: 81 percent of Hispanic Americans agree that owning a home is a good investment. Hispanics continue to prefer homeownership to renting with 88 percent indicating they are more likely to own a home in the future than rent.

What is the homeownership rate amongst your demographic?

Muriel: Homeownership rate amongst African Americans is 42.1 percent, which is the same as when the Fair Housing Act was enacted over 50 years ago.

Michael: 0.8 percent of marriages in Colorado are same sex marriages. The legalization of same sex marriages has helped couples combine incomes helping in the home purchase process. The homeownership rate for the LGBTQ community is at 49 percent.

Lisa: Asian Americans have a 58.2 percent home ownership rate. The language barrier is a problem in the home buying process. Asians are the fastest growing demographic in the U.S.

Derek: The Hispanic community suffered the loss of a lot of wealth in the last recession. Many had to start over. The homeownership rate for Hispanic Americans is 46.6 percent.

Caucasian Americans have a homeownership rate of 72 percent and the U.S. average over all is 64.2 percent 

Lending and access to credit issues

Muriel: African Americans have had high denial rates for a variety of reasons. Those reasons include debt/income ratios, credit scores, and lower median income. African Americans have also tended to have higher cost loans. African American renters interested in becoming homeowners reported a lack of information on how to buy a home, get an agent, and getting a mortgage as barriers to homeownership.

Michael: Many people in the LBGTQ community are fearful of the credit and mortgage process. There is a drastic need for targeted education. In general, they have a strong desire to achieve financial stability or to get married before buying. 

Lisa: Language barriers and the credit scoring process are hurdles. Asian Americans tend to have a desire to acquire a large down payment before purchasing, often creating a delay in the purchase process.  Asians tend to have multiple generation families living together and all making a contribution to the down payment.

Derek: Credit recovery after the recession has been one of the biggest hurdles for Hispanic Americans. Other hurdles have been a lower median income for qualifying and saving for the initial down payment. 

Discrimination in housing

Muriel: African Americans wanting to buy were shown 17.7 percent fewer homes.

Michael: 73 percent of LGBTQ community members are strongly concerned about discrimination in the home buying process.

Lisa: One in five Asian Americans say they’ve experienced discrimination in the home buying process.

Derek: 31 percent of Hispanic Americans report they’ve experienced discrimination when looking for a house or apartment.

Recommendations from the panel as a whole

Redefine “affordable housing

Many affordable housing programs are not designed to help occupants build wealth. The Colorado Association of REALTORS® research points to out-of-the-box solutions utilizing public, private, and non-profit participation.

Improved consumer advocacy

Consumer relationships with REALTORS® and lenders hold the key to providing trusted resources to make homeownership possible for more people.

Improved education services

Studies show that services, such as pre-purchase and credit counseling, would help break down barriers in the home buying and financial process.

Guidance about fair housing

Discrimination is often difficult to detect. Empower consumers with knowledge about their rights under fair housing. Knowledgeable REALTORS® can represent buyers and be their advocate to help avoid discrimination in a home purchase.

Improved financial programs

Federal lending and credit scoring practices make access to homeownership more challenging for many demographics.

Education in general

Education, regardless of demographic or ethnicity, is a key issue. Americans need to graduate from a vocational school or college because a high school education, which leads to a minimum wage job, will never pay enough for an individual to purchase a home. In addition, further education about the home buying process aimed at all demographics is crucial.

Colorado REALTORS® are committed to learning about the opportunities that exist to help with affordability, accessibility, and financing for everyone. Moreover, Colorado REALTORS are further committed to the education of Colorado residents so that they are aware of these housing opportunities.

To learn more, visit the Colorado Association of REALTORS website at: coloradorealtors.com/

By Duane Duggan, RE/MAX of Boulder. Duane has been a Realtor for RE/MAX of Boulder in Colorado since 1982 and has facilitated over 2,500 transactions over his career, the vast majority from repeat and referred clients. He has been awarded two of the highest honors bestowed by RE/MAX International: The Lifetime Achievement Award and the Circle of Legends Award. Living the life of a Realtor and being immersed in real estate led to the inception of his book, Realtor for Life.

For questions, email Duane at DuaneDuggan@BoulderCo.com, call 303.441.5611, or visit boulderco.com.