Updated: Mar 26, 2021
Homeownership is not enough to close the wealth gap. There. I said it.
Studies consistently show that Black households seek homeownership later, pay more over the life of their mortgage, are less likely to sustain said home, and see less home appreciation than their White counterparts. Homeownership is a step in the right direction, but we have to address the why behind these other issues.
If careful consideration is not taken when purchasing a home, an unsuccessful attempt at homeownership could set a Black household back emotionally and psychologically - let alone financially. Due to a tunnel-vision-focused approach towards Black home-ownership, we are missing the mark by a mile.
People don't tell you that successful homeownership and the value that comes from it boils down to community equity - not homeownership. I liken community equity to investing: the community is the company, and the home is a share of its stock. The value of that stock fluctuates with the desirability of the community. Think about the area in which you live. Jot down all the different neighborhoods in your surrounding area and rank them: 1 being horrible and 10 being great. How much are you willing to pay to live in the great community? How much are you willing to pay to live in the horrible community... You get my point!
Yes, a home can have beautiful hardwood floors, a jacuzzi tub in the master, and a backsplash to die for in the kitchen. Still, if the community is not desirable, the home will not be as desirable.
To make matters worse, if someone purchases more home than he or she can maintain, he or she will have less money to spend in their community (if you are even intentional about spending in your community) to build up its economic strength - thus suppressing the overall value of their home. Having limited financial resources also means that one might have to work more to make ends meet. This means that this person is less available to tend to the needs of their home and community.
Now, imagine an entire community of individuals with limited time and resources to maintain their homes. If they can't maintain their homes, then there is no way they can maintain the community that drives their home's value.
Being labeled a "Black" community does not make things better, which is why you have to be vigilant about debunking harmful stereotypes about blackness.
Man, this post is down-right depressing and exhausting. Avoiding these issues, however, just is not an option.
If homeownership is to work in favor of Black communities, Black communities must prioritize community over homeownership. Prioritizing the community results in better management of financial resources and greater community involvement. Greater community involvement facilitates connection. Connection encourages greater care of personal and community resources. Strong community resources and amenities drive community desirability. Desirability creates demand. Demand, along with a limited supply, drives home prices. Higher home prices lead to greater tax revenue that can be used to improve your community's desirability and, ultimately, the value of your home!!!
I hope that studies will someday show that through a commitment to the Black community, Black households purchase homes earlier, sustain those homes, and experience home appreciation on par if not greater than industry averages.
But, to accomplish this, you (we) have to focus on buying the community - not the home.