Asians Hit Worst By Decline in Housing Market

MSNBC, Sept. 21, 2009

Asians, many of them living in foreclosure-ravaged California, suffered the sharpest drop in homeownership last year, eclipsing declines felt by whites, blacks and Hispanics, according to new Census data.

The decline was surprising, because Asians tend to earn more than other minority groups and have less debt. But one out of three Asian homeowners lives in California, which has seen foreclosure rates skyrocket and home values plummet since the housing bubble burst. And that appears to have disproportionately exposed them to the effects from the housing collapse, experts suggested.

The U.S. homeownership rate fell to 66.6 percent last year, the lowest in six years, after hitting a peak of 67.3 percent in 2006, according to figures from the American Community Survey, which was released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Homeownership for Asians fell 1.24 percentage points last year to 59.4 percent.

The decline was 0.88 percentage points for blacks to 45.6 percent. Hispanics experienced a similar decline, down 0.80 to 49.1 percent. Whites suffered the smallest decline, down 0.40 to 73.4 percent.

But because Asians only represent 3.3 percent of all U.S. homeowners, the decline in the number of black and white households was greater. The number of Hispanic homeowners actually rose, reflecting trends in immigration and higher birth rates.

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The median annual household income for Asians was just over $70,000 last year, higher than for any other racial group.

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The drop in homeownership is a reversal after the housing boom years, when minorities in the U.S. took advantage of easy access to financing and became homeowners.

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