MReport July 2017

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Page 32 of 67

FEATURE AREAA, with the support of RE/MAX, developed the State of Asia-American Report to help connect real estate indus- try professionals to members of the AAPI community. Only 55.6 percent of AAPI are homeowners, well below the national average for non-Hispanic whites at 72 percent. This is puzzling given that, on average, the AAPI have higher credit scores, higher levels of income, and higher levels of education than other ethnic groups. Forty-nine percent of AAPI who are at least 25 years old hold a bachelor's degree or higher, compared to the national average of 28 percent. Not only are AAPI community members typically highly educated, but they also have the highest rate of employment of any race or ethnic group, at 61.3 percent. Based on the indicators above, it would seem the rate of homeownership would be higher for this group, but the AAPI community faces additional barriers to housing specific to their communities. Among those challenges is high student loan debt, which can make it difficult to save for a down payment and impact the debt-to-income ratio often measured to secure a loan. Another challenge is lack of mature credit. This can hinder potential homeowners' chances of securing a loan, even if they have the finances to purchase a home. The competitive housing market is also a factor, as increasing home prices and continued low inventory can create barriers of entry into an already difficult market. In addition, AAPI and other minorities face unique challenges to homeownership. Language barriers and perceived discrimination, unfortunately, can be factors. In fact, roughly 20 percent of AAPI homeowners say they've experienced discrimination during the homebuying process. The State of Asia- America report revealed that Asian- American homebuyers learn about 15 percent fewer homes and are shown nearly 19 percent fewer units than non- Hispanic whites. Mapping a Path Forward A s much as the world is changing, the basics are still the key. Trust, service, transparency, and knowing the wants and needs of your clients remain the cornerstones of business success. Insights, experience, and access to data build upon that fundamental core. The most direct approach to gaining that second-level knowledge is getting involved with local chapters of national organizations such as AREAA and NAHREP. AREAA has more than 15,000 members with 37 chapters across the U.S. and Canada. The organization represents 51 ethnicities, with 26 languages spoken. NAHREP has over 26,000 members in 48 states with 50 affiliate chapters. With both organizations, opportunities to learn, participate, and contribute are virtually everywhere. Through their involvement, professionals can surely make a difference. For instance, they can advocate for the policy issues that are important to these communities. AREAA's 2017 policy platform involves student debt, language access, and credit- scoring reform. AREAA has consistently advocated the implementation of alternative credit scoring systems for consumers who have little or no credit due to debt-adverse lifestyles. Multiple bills before Congress this year will support this change. AREAA also champions a redesign of the Uniform Residential Loan Application Form to add a Preferred Language Data Field so loan officers will know the preferred language spoken by the applicants. For its part, NAHREP is focusing on making homeownership accessible for first-time buyers by improving credit access, reducing barriers to new home construction, and advancing tax policies that encourage purchases when conditions are right. Mortgage or real estate professionals who take the time to embrace the changing landscape position themselves to provide better service and increase the value they offer their clients, and they help contribute to the tradition of the American Dream Truslow described as, "that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement." By helping more people achieve the American Dream of owning a home, housing industry professionals benefit their communities and enhance their own careers—all at the same time. MIKE REAGAN is SVP of Business Alliances at RE/MAX. He oversees the global alliance programs that have helped make RE/MAX one of the most recognized real estate brands in the world. He also leads the RE/MAX Collection luxury real estate division, which serves affluent buyers and sellers around the world; and RE/MAX Commercial, which under his direction has grown into one of the top 20 commercial brokerage networks in the world. TH E M R EP O RT | 31

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