BAM Key Details: 

  • According to new Zillow research across 26 major U.S. metros, a majority of respondents (57%) say they have experienced housing discrimination. But only 42% say fair housing policies impact them and their families.
  • LGBTQ+ respondents were most likely to report housing discrimination, along with BIPOC respondents, younger generations, and renters. 

April is Fair Housing Month—a time to assess where we are in our local and nationwide efforts to remove the obstacles to homeownership that have to do with a potential buyer’s status as a minority. 

According to new Zillow research across 26 major U.S. metros, a majority of respondents say they have experienced housing discrimination. 

Younger generations, renters, people of color, and those who identify as LGBTQ+ are more likely to say housing discrimination in some form has impacted them and their families. 

Zillow-Discrimination-chart

Source: Zillow

Though fair housing laws have been in place for almost 60 years, discrimination remains a stubborn issue for many potential homebuyers, as evidenced by the persistent racial homeownership gap.

Housing discrimination impacts 57% of Zillow survey respondents

More than half of Zillow’s survey respondents (57%) said they’d experienced some form of housing discrimination, with LGBTQ+ respondents most likely to report it.

That said, only 42% said fair housing policies impact them or their families, meaning we’ve got a ways to go when it comes to educating people about fair housing laws and the rights they protect—as well as what recourse buyers have when they experience housing discrimination.  

Zillow-impact of fair-housing

Source: Zillow

April is Fair Housing Month, and this research shows how far we have to go to make housing fair and accessible for all. Over half of respondents report experiencing housing discrimination. Fair housing issues are more likely to be top of mind for younger generations, likely attributable to their higher likelihood of moving, renting and buying a home more frequently than older generations, given their current stage of life.

Manny Garcia

Senior population scientist at Zillow

Homebuyers are not giving up on the American dream

Despite the very real challenges today’s homebuyers face—including persistent discrimination—70% of Zillow’s survey respondents see homeownership as necessary to achieving the American dream. 

Zillow-American-dream

Source: Zillow

Also, nearly 8 in 10 respondents see owning a home as a must for building and passing on generational wealth. 

Zillow-generational-wealth

Source: Zillow

That said, non-white Americans face an even tougher housing market, thanks to exclusionary housing policies and practices. Only 46% of Black and 49% of Hispanic households own their homes, compared to 74.5% of white households. 

One of the biggest obstacles to homeownership for potential buyers is the down payment—which is why so many younger buyers turn to family for financial assistance. 

That down payment barrier is not a new thing, which is why there are over 2,000 down payment assistance programs available in the U.S. 

Unfortunately, many buyers are unaware of these programs or assume they wouldn’t qualify. 

So, what can you do, as an agent, to address the barriers facing potential homebuyers, and particularly those experiencing discrimination in their quest for homeownership? 

  • Educate your buyer clients on their options for covering the down payment, including assistance programs. And make sure they know they’re not obligated to put 20% down.
  • Educate potential buyers on ways to build or improve their credit rating to maximize their chances of qualifying for a mortgage loan. 
  • Help potential buyers understand the costs associated with a home at a particular price point, as well as what they can truly afford on a monthly basis. 
  • Keep your buyers in the loop about changes to their local housing market that could help them become homeowners sooner rather than later (if buying is in their best interest). 
  • Look into programs that assist minority homebuyers facing discrimination in their journey to homeownership and educate your consumers on what’s available to them. 

Acknowledging and addressing the challenges homebuyers face—including the housing discrimination still experienced among marginalized groups—can help more buyers enjoy the long-term benefits of homeownership. 

Zillow’s efforts at leveling the playing field include— 

  • Providing information on down payment assistance resources on every for-sale listing on the Zillow website and app, helping buyers gain access to one of the 2,000+ programs available in the U.S.
  • Advocating for the passage of the Washington Covenant Homeownership Act, providing financial assistance to make homeownership more accessible to those impacted by housing discrimination in the state formerly excluded by racially restrictive covenants.
  • Enabling rent payment reporting (to a major national credit bureau) for renters who pay their landlords through Zillow to help them build/improve their credit history. 
  • Developing an LGBTQ+ Local Legal Protections tool, adding information on LGBTQ+ housing, employment, and public accommodation laws to all for-sale listings on Zillow.

Being a skilled knowledge broker is critical to your ability to continually educate your clients and community. To that end, don’t miss the Hot Sheet Monday through Thursday (when the market is open) for a daily review of the latest news on the housing market and economy. 

And block out some time on Friday for the Knowledge Brokers Podcast for a weekly discussion on the news that impacts real estate agents, as well as scripts and other agent tactics that work. 

But don’t stop there. Top agents are flocking to BAMx—the key to thriving in real estate.