by Dana Gentry, Nevada Current
October 13, 2021
Prices for homes in Nevada increased 22.7% between August of last year and this year, more than the national average of 18.1%, the highest U.S. increase in the ranking’s 45-year history, according to a new report from analyst CoreLogic.
Nevada had the fifth highest percentage increase in the nation, which was led by Idaho’s 32.2% hike in home prices.
The high cost of homes is pushing ownership out of reach for families earning less than six figures, according to a consumer survey from CoreLogic that found 59% of prospective homebuyers reported household earnings of at least $100,000, compared to 10% of would-be buyers who earn less than $50,000.
The increase in prices is illustrated by the widening gap between white and Black homeowners, which was 30 points at the end of the second quarter of this year, according to the U.S. Census.
The disparity is greatest in Minnesota, where 74.8% of white people owned homes compared with 24.8% of Black individuals in 2017, according to a 2018 report from the Urban Institute. Fayetteville, North Carolina had one of the lowest gaps, with white homeownership at 62.8% and Black homeownership at 45.4%, according to the report.
The disparity between Black homeownership in Las Vegas (30.4%) and white home ownership (61.2%) is about 30 points, according to the U.S. Census, mirroring national data.
Between 2006 and 2018, homeownership among white Nevadans remained at 65%, dipping to a low of 60% in 2010, according to the Nevada Commission on Minorities.
Homeownership among Hispanics dropped from 50% to 47%, among Asians from 69% to 64%, and among Native Americans from 53% to 48%.
During the same time, home ownership among Black Nevadans plunged from 42% to 28%.
Nationally, Black home ownership hit a record low of 40.6% in the second quarter of 2019, before the pandemic.
The Urban Institute attributes some of the disparity in Black home ownership to factors such as “size of the city, economic and job opportunities, the makeup of the black population (native born versus foreign born), home prices, proximity to education centers and colleges, access to traditional financial services, type of housing stock, and affordability.”
Some experts fear the gap in homeownership may be widening. In May, according to the Urban Institute, Black homeowners were more likely than white homeowners to have missed or deferred their mortgage payment due to the financial impact of the coronavirus.
Homeownership in Nevada decreased among all ethnic minorities between 2006 and 2018, but the ownership rate remained stable among white people, according to the Nevada Commission on Minority Affairs. Home ownership among Black people plunged from 42% in 2006 to 28% in 2018.
The median household income in Nevada is currently $65,100, according to Clark County data.
It’s highest among Asians ($74,300), followed by white people ($70,220), Hispanics ($55,102), American Indians ($47,757) and Black people ($44,577).
“Disparate rates of wealth and homeownership are symbiotic issues that persist and continuously leave Black households behind in building generational wealth,” says the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, which says homeownership rates among Black Americans peaked at 49% between 2004 and 2006.
“Once the housing bubble burst and the 2008 recession hit, more than 240,000 Black homeowners lost their homes due to a myriad of reasons, such as the housing crisis’s subsequent economic recession, widespread job loss, foreclosures and overall financial instability,” according to the NCRC. “Disproportionate effects from the recession were seen across income brackets. High-earning Black homeowners were 80% more likely to lose their homes than their white counterparts.”
Latinos lost up to two-thirds of their median household wealth during the Great Recession, says the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. Like Black Americans, Hispanics endured higher rates of COVID-19 transmission, higher rates of death among those under the age of 55, and higher rates of unemployment, according to a report from NAHREP.
The organization’s president, Sayona Garcia, insists homeownership among Latinos is on the rise. “That’s wrong,” she says of the Nevada Commission on Minorities assessment of homeownership.
The key to increasing homeownership among minorities is assistance, says Las Vegas Realtors president Aldo Martinez.
“Realtors do not select or prioritize buyers by race, nationality, ethnicity, or religious preferences,” he said via text. “That said, the barriers to homeownership come not so much from race and ethnicity but from financial ability. Therefore, most of the programs designed to bridge that gap are centered on lending initiatives such as first time buyer programs, down payment assistance and FHA home loans that allow a higher debt-to-income ratio.”
Builders, according to Martinez, play a pivotal role in addressing the inequity and are “looking for infill lots to fulfill the lower income affordable housing needed in today’s escalating market.”
Help for prospective buyers
Governments and private lenders offer a variety of programs and incentives for would-be buyers.
Nevada’s Home is Possible program offers low- and moderate- income buyers a fixed rate 30-year loan with assistance for down payment and closing costs. To qualify, a family’s annual income must be no more than $105,000 and the home must cost no more than $548,250.
The state’s Home is Possible for Heroes program offers below-market fixed interest rates to veterans and active military personnel.
“If you’re a veteran who has been honorably discharged, are in the National Guard, are a surviving spouse or on active military duty,” the program was “made specifically for you,” says the state’s website.
Licensed kindergarten through grade 12 teachers in Nevada are eligible to receive $7,500 toward a home purchase through Home is Possible for Teachers, and there’s no repayment for those who remain in their homes for five years. The money may be used for a down payment or closing costs. There’s no first-time buyer requirement and the program, which includes a below-market fixed interest rate 30-year loan, is available to households earning no more than $105,000.
The state’s Rural Housing Authority offers a mortgage credit certificate program called Home at Last that provides first-time buyers and qualified veterans with a yearly credit on their federal income tax equal to 30% of the mortgage interest paid each year for the life of the loan.
Some of the nation’s largest banks are also trumpeting steps to make more housing more affordable for more people.
JP Morgan Chase offers a grant to first-time buyers in 6,700 communities the U.S. Census has identified as majority-minority.
“Systemic racism is a tragic part of America’s history,” said Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co., in a statement about the program. “We can do more and do better to break down systems that have propagated racism and widespread economic inequality, especially for Black and Latinx people. It’s long past time that society addresses racial inequities in a more tangible, meaningful way.”
Last year, Chase announced a five-year, $30 billion effort to combat racial inequality by funding new home loans to minority buyers, refinancing existing loans to make them more affordable, and providing loans for the construction of affordable housing.
Chase follows Citi, the first major bank to announce an initiative targeting racial equality. A report released by the bank says systemic racism has cost the United States $16 trillion over the last 20 years.
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