May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month – a time to recognize and celebrate the many accomplishments of the AAPI Community throughout our history.  This community is extremely diverse—its members originate from many countries, speak different languages, and have a wide range of socioeconomic statuses. According to Pew Research Center, the national Asian population—which is now over 23 million—practically doubled between 2000 and 2019; by 2060, it is projected to reach 46 million, which will make it the largest immigrant group in the United States.

The growth and variety amongst the AAPI community is apparent in real estate as well.  The Asian American Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) is a national nonprofit trade association dedicated to improving the lives of the AAPI community through homeownership.  In its eighteen-year history, AREAA has grown tremendously, with over 17,000 members in 41 Chapters across the United States and Canada. Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. real estate professionals who are members of AREAA belong to the DC Metro Chapter. AREAA has an abundance of resources to serve—and help others serve—this dynamic market. Of note are the State of Asia America reports; to read up on the latest, check out the 2019-2020 State of Asia America Report.

While homeownership amongst Asians is greater than any other minority group—and the median household income and median house values are significantly higher than the national average—this community still faces its challenges. Many still believe a large down payment is required in order to purchase a home. For new immigrants or refugees, for example, saving that money can be difficult. Also, a large percentage of members of the AAPI community are small business owners. With the COVID-19 pandemic, purchasing a home for many Asians still seems like a far-away dream.

Late last month, AREAA hosted a Diversity and Fair Housing Summit, which fostered conversations around cultural biases in the United States and how to bring about change and healing. The sessions ranged from understanding light privilege, to the various accents of members of the AAPI community, to impacts of different religions. This unity was, perhaps, needed now more than ever, as the AAPI Community is presently facing many challenges to removing the perception of being the “model minority” and battling continued adversity and blame as a result of COVID-19.

There was a central theme at AREAA’s Diversity and Fair Housing Summit around empathy. So, how can we as real estate professionals best honor AAPI heritage this month? Listen and learn, read up on some of the latest reports, and be empathetic. To learn more about AAPI home ownership rates in Virginia, check out this blog from Virginia REALTORS®.

Click here to send any comments or questions about this piece to Virginia REALTORS® Senior Vice President of Community and Industry Relations Leslie Frazier.