Black homeownership in Maine lags nationwide

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Minority homeownership in Maine is lower than the white rate, with fewer black buyers here than in most other parts of the country, a national study published Wednesday found.

The homeownership rate for whites in the state was 73% in 2019, 43 percentage points higher than that for blacks at 30%, according to the National Association of Realtors’ analysis of US data. Census Bureau. Hispanic ownership in Maine was 55 percent and Asian-American ownership was 77 percent. All racial ownership percentages in Maine were above national averages, except for the black rate, which was 12 percentage points lower than the nation’s.

Low homeownership rates have an impact on the financial situation. The association said that homeownership contributes to wealth accumulation, and because the homeownership rate is lower among minority groups, their net worth is lower. At $ 188,200, the nationwide net worth of a typical white family was nearly eight times that of a black family in 2019.

Minority groups make up a small portion of Maine’s overall population, which is recorded alongside Vermont among the whitest states in the country. More than 94% of Maine residents were white in July 2019, according to the United States Census Bureau. 1.7% were black, 1.8% Hispanic and 1.3% Asian.

Maine’s residential housing market has seen record sales during the pandemic, fueled by low interest rates and an influx of out-of-state buyers. Sales last year were up nearly 10% from 2019 to 19,921 homes, according to the Maine Association of Realtors. Values ​​rose nearly 14% to reach a median selling price of $ 256,000. The median sale price indicates that half of the homes were sold for more and the other half for less.

This has led to an accumulation of real estate wealth. Nationally, homeowners increased their wealth by about $ 1 trillion last year, said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors.

But first-time home buyers, many of whom are minorities, have been disproportionately affected by job losses during the pandemic, he said. This, together with the rapid rise in house prices, is pushing them out of the market.

“For black Americans, in general, the greater likelihood of having student loan debt, combined with lower household incomes and accumulated savings relative to the national average, adds to the challenge. [of homeownership],” he said.

The association said President Joe Biden’s proposed first-time buyer tax credit of up to $ 15,000 could help reduce some of the racial disparities.

Some 43 percent of blacks nationwide had student loan debt of about $ 40,000, compared with 21 percent or white households carrying student loan debt of $ 30,000 on average.

Black mortgage applicants were also turned down for mortgages more than twice as often as white applicants. This led to more black people paying in cash and using their retirement or pension funds as a down payment on a loan.

Discrimination is also present in the purchase of housing. Some 41 percent of black respondents to the association’s study said they faced more stringent requirements because of their race, and a third said they had experienced discrimination with the type of loan product on offer. .

About seven in ten white Americans have bought a home in a predominantly white neighborhood. A quarter of black, Hispanic and Asian American buyers have followed suit.

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