Black millennials have spurred a new trend in overall homeownership for African Americans despite the economic challenges brought onto the community at large throughout 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic and other systemic issues.
According to CNN, an analysis from the National Association of Homeowners released in November showed African Americans made up 5 percent of Americans who purchased homes in the first three quarters of the year, which was a single percentage point over 2019. At the same time, this group raised homeownership for Blacks by two percentage points in the same period.
African Americans ages 26-39 made up a majority of Black home purchases, and many left apartments in cities and moved to homes in suburbs.
"Without a doubt, African-American Millennials are participating in this home-buying surge," said Lawrence Yun, an economist with the National Association of Realtors. "The fact that Black home [purchases] are much higher now compared to before the pandemic is quite a surprise."
Yun described the increase in Black homebuying as an example of the U.S. economy’s “K-shaped” recovery, meaning those who were doing well are continuing to do so, while those whose financial situations were only middling are not. Those who did have jobs and are continuing growth kept their economic stimulus checks.
This includes those Black millennials who have good jobs and are financially thriving. They are expected to continue the homebuying trend well into 2021.
"We've already seen indicators of more houses starting to come on the market, more people being aggressive," JoAnne Poole, a Baltimore realtor, told CNN.
What may be driving the homebuyers is a few factors. First, the pandemic itself, along with low mortgage rates and a contemporary placement of wealth building among Blacks are partly roots of the new trend.
"They're saying, 'Let me invest in myself, buy while I can,'" Ennis Antoine, an Atlanta-area realtor told CNN. Home sales, according to his estimate, are up 30 percent. Black millennials who earn more than $80,000 per year are his main clients.
"I didn't like the direction the world was going, but I did have something to look forward to," said Tony Joseph, a 33-year-old Buffalo, N.Y., firefighter, who purchased his home in May. "It made me feel good even though the world was in shambles."
However, despite the good news, economists issued a caveat on the economy and how it might affect potential Black homeownership.
Jung Hyun Choi, an Urban Institute research associate told CNN that those who have lost jobs could be looking at foreclosures. If that happens without the help of state or federal government forbearance programs -- many of which will expire in early 2021 unless a new stimulus package emerges, Black homeownership could see a serious drop.
"If the labor market doesn't recover and people fail to pay back bills before the [forbearance] period ends, it's very likely home ownership in the Black community will drop significantly," said Choi.