In celebration of Black History Month, we wanted to highlight African American homeownership here in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Nationally, homeownership rates among African American households began to decline dramatically in 2007, when subprime home loans began going into default and the economy went into recession. Since then, overall homeownership rates have increased; however, rates for African American households have continued to decline and are now lower than they were in 1968 when the federal Fair Housing Act was enacted.

In Virginia, African American homeownership rates are higher than they are in many parts of the country. In 2018, the African American homeownership rate in Virginia was 47.7%, compared to 42.1% nationally. However, African American homeownership rates also have been trending down in the Commonwealth, falling from 51.1% in 2000 and 49.6% in 2010. While the overall homeownership rate in Virginia is also lower than it was in 2000, the decline has been steeper among African American households.

A lack of access to homeownership opportunities puts African American Virginians at a disadvantage compared to their White counterparts since homeownership is the primary way in which individuals and families accumulate wealth in the U.S. Data from the Federal Reserve Board shows that the median wealth of African American households is about a tenth of the median wealth of White households. A large part of that gap is due to differences in homeownership rates.

Virginia REALTORS® is committed to education and advocacy to ensure that there is choice in housing and neighborhood options among people of all races and ethnicities. Individual REALTOR® members have an important role to play in promoting responsible homeownership and increasing African American homeownership rates in Virginia—and the benefits that accrue from being a homeowner.