Even as the real estate market in New York City has come roaring back to life since the Great Recession, black homeowners in particular are facing a crushing reality: many often owe more on their mortgages than their property is worth.
The map below, based on recently released U.S. Census data and 2015 mortgage data collected by Zillow, shows majority black homeowner neighborhoods in eastern Queens, eastern Bronx, and the north shore of Staten Island, where residents have been saddled with mortgage debt as their home values plummeted. It’s a sad reality, especially since home values in most neighborhoods in New York City now surpass those from their pre-bust peak.
The implications of this are huge: Homeowners whose mortgages are “underwater,” as housing experts refer to it, can’t take equity out of their homes, are unable to build wealth and are more likely to default and face challenges if they want to move — for instance, for a new job that’s in another city.
All of this is linked to a national trend highlighted in research published in October 2015 that found black families who bought homes since 2000 had seen their net worth decrease as a result of their inability to generate wealth from their equity. A press release about the study explains:
The main factor in whether white buyers made money on their home was when they bought it. But timing had nothing to do with it for black buyers, the researchers found. Instead, the driver was the neighborhood they bought into – and often those areas were predominantly black, with lower housing prices, lower appreciation and declining rates of homeownership. For black buyers, their education and marital status were also key predictors of how the purchase would affect their assets though neither influenced the return on investment of white buyers.
Leo Goldberg, senior policy associate, contributed analysis and research to this post. Map produced by Research Analyst Chris Cardinal.