Last week felt like I was drinking from a fire hose– my partner Marilyn Wilson and I attended the 54th Annual Real Estate Journalism Conference for the National Association of Real Estate Editors ( From the buzz created by Marilyn’s participation in the disruption panel to connecting with faces new and familiar, the event marked an exciting opportunity to connect over the industry’s latest research findings.

National Association of Real Estate Editors logoNAREE celebrates its 90th birthday this year and includes most of the nation’s most prolific real estate reporters. I have attended more than two dozen conferences since I joined NAREE. This gathering took place in Austin, which I mentioned in a previous article is one of my favorite cities, and it did not disappoint.   

Nearly 200 journalists and communicators showed up for a packed agenda that revealed, among other things, some terrific new housing research. Here I want to share some of the key findings from a study by another great organization, the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA). Through advocacy, business development, and education AREAA aims to improve homeownership statistics for Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), a community comprised of over 50 ethnicities and 26 languages.

I first got to know AREAA when I worked at Great Western Bank in California. Later, when I was head of Fannie Mae’s housing affordability office in Seattle, I became intimately familiar with the research surrounding Asian Americans. One of the newest Asian family- mother, father, and three children standing in front of house with text "State of Asia America 2018-19" cover of reportefforts, sponsored by RE/MAX LLC and Freddie Mac, is its “State of Asia America 2018-2019” report. It’s packed with insight into a community that too often goes overlooked in the real estate market– the numbers for AAPI homeownership, education, and economic advancement often stagger those who are unfamiliar with this demographic.

Opportunity arises

The AAPI community comprises America’s fastest-growing demographic. As 2019 AREAA President Tom Truong notes in this report, AAPI families are relocating into every region of the country, and not just the coasts. Driven primarily by the search for homeownership, these families are also migrating toward the Midwest and the South.

This demographic is economically vibrant: the average Asian American household income is $73,000. That’s $20,000 more than the overall U.S. median income.  AAPIs rank highly when it comes to maintaining a savings account, with a stunning 86% of the population having some established savings. Nearly 30% of all AAPIs currently own stock in their savings or investment portfolio.

AAPI buying power has increased by 257% from 2000 to 2017. Asian Americans as spenders are equivalent to the 4th largest state’s economy in the U.S. or the 17th largest economy in the world, just behind Mexico.

Their future is even brighter: AAPIs comprise the fast-growing student population in the U.S. The growth rate is striking: undergraduate enrollment rates have ballooned from 198,000 in 1976 to 1.7 million in 2019. More than half (52%) of all AAPIs earn a bachelor’s degree versus the national average of 30%. The top fields of study for AAPI students: engineering, business and management, math and computer science, social studies, and physical and life sciences. 

Employment rates among AAPIs are the highest of any minority at 61%. Asian Americans rank number one in average weekly earnings ($1095). That’s significantly higher than both Black ($712) and Hispanic ($684) Americans and tops white Americans by about 18% ($931).

AAPIs are often successful entrepreneurs: there are over 2 million AAPI-owned firms in the U.S. Between 2007 and 2012, AAPI-owned businesses grew by 24%, and their sales grew by 38%. Of 87 startup firms valued over $1 billion, 19 were founded by Asian Americans.

Homeownership is a hallmark of AAPI achievements. AAPIs have the highest rate of homeownership among minorities. Since 2010, AAPIs have been the most active minority participant in the housing and mortgage markets. More AAPI families applied for conventional purchase mortgages last year than any other minority group, as measured by both the number of loans and their total value. 

While AAPI homeownership still falls behind the national average, the number of AAPI homebuyers has increased by 27% since 2001. AREAA shows that continuing to close this gap by expanding access to credit and ensuring home affordability for these communities benefits America’s economy directly, creating clientele and strengthening business partnerships.

The report has a LOT more data and is well-worth digging through, but one fact jumps out at me.

With the non-Hispanic white homeownership rate north of 73% and an Asian American homeownership rate of 58.1%, based on all the AAPIs data, the opportunity for real estate professionals to serve better this historically underserved market is as enormous as it is ready for lift-off.

Request a download of the report on AREAA’s website.

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