WORKING WITH AND ATTRACTING THE AAPI COMMUNITY
The Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) is in its 17th year and has over 17,000 members and 42 chapters.
While Asian Americans have the second highest homeownership rate of any group (58.2%), we are far below the 72.7% rate of non-Hispanic whites. AREAA’s focus is to empower our members to improve the lives of AAPI community through real estate. Through our advocacy work we continue to work on policies impacting the AAPI community including alternative credit and language access.
As part of our efforts, we have created a series of tips and suggestions that can help local brokerages turn their brand’s partnerships with AREAA into a business driver by fully engaging with and embracing the AAPI community.
What is AREAA?
Founded in 2003, the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA) is a nonprofit professional trade organization dedicated to promoting sustainable homeownership opportunities in Asian American communities by creating a powerful national voice for housing and real estate professionals that serve this dynamic market.
AREAA will accomplish these goals by:
- Creating a powerful national voice for housing and real estate professionals that serve this dynamic market.
- Advocating for policy positions at the national level that will reduce barriers to homeownership for the AAPI community.
- Increasing business opportunities for mortgage and real estate professionals that serve this growing community.
- Hosting National and Local events to educate and inform members about housing issues and developments affecting the AAPI community.
AREAA’s membership represents a vast array of cultural, ethnic, and professional backgrounds. AREAA is open to anyone and everyone who works with or seeks to work with, the AAPI community. With over 17,000 members in 41 chapters across the US and Canada, AREAA is the largest Asian organization in North America.
The first step begins with understanding what the AAPI community is. AAPI stands for Asian American Pacific Islander. This encompasses dozens of distinct ethnic identities.
AAPIs buy home for same life event reasons as the general U.S. population but we all need to be aware that we should not typecast Asian Americans as one homogenous group. Instead, AAPIs make up a bunch of different cultures each with its own ingrained beliefs. AREAA will continue to educate the real estate and mortgage industries about the AAPI community and work to make aware of the traditional barriers of entry. At the same time, AREAA needs its members to educate the consumer.
This article is an incredible reminder that AAPIs should be not be typecast. Each potential agent should be treated as an individual.
THE HISTORY OF AAPIs
Asian Americans today are a rapidly growing pan ethnic segment of Americans who have immigrated to the United States as early as the 1700s. The Chinese are a major segment of the larger Asian American community and were the first Asian people group to begin migrating in mass in the mid 1800s. Chinese immigrants largely moved to California where many went to work on the railroads. According to Pew Research Center, 90% of the workforce responsible for completing the Central Pacific Railroad were Chinese immigrants.
By 1900, 205,050 Chinese and Japanese Americans lived in the U.S. – despite strict, discriminatory immigration policies including the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act which banned the immigration of Chinese immigrants and prevented naturalization of Chinese residents. Although Japanese Americans still faced harsh experiences of racism and discrimination, American policy was still far favorable to the Japanese in comparison to treatment of the Chinese immigrants throughout this era. Chinese, Japanese, Native Americans (referred to as Indians), and African Americans (referred to as negroes) were all classified as ‘colored’ when the 1900 Census was taken. Other Asian ethnic groups were not recognized, meaning that accurate counts of Asian Americans with ancestry outside of China and Japanese were not available.
U.S. immigration laws and policies heavily influenced the growth and socioeconomic status of Asian Americans. Asian Americans were not allowed to be naturalized U.S. citizens until the 1952 through the passing of the McCarran-Walter Immigration and Naturalization Act, which still prevented the legal immigration of Asians. It was not until the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act passed that immigration from Asia was legalized and Asian families were allowed to freely travel to the United States. This act, along with the influx of refugees from conflicts occurring in Southeast Asia resulted in a rapid increase of Asian immigration.
GROWING AAPI POPULATION
Where does the AAPI community fit in our nation’s diverse culture? AAPIs are 22.5 million strong and are led by the Chinese, Indian and Filipino communities. The AAPI population grew dramatically 72% between 2000-2015 and the growth has been in all states (except Hawaii which already had large population). While our highest concentration is in the West, our Southern population has really grown. And by 2024 it is expected that there will be another 1.8 million Asian American households. But we are also a very young American group. 79% of Asian Americans 18 or older were born outside of the U.S. The exact opposite is true for those under 18.
The AAPI community values education. 62% of Asian American millennials have a college degree vs. 28% U.S. average. It is not a surprise to learn that AAPI household income is $72,000 vs. the U.S. average of $52,000. This wealth translates to real estate where the average loan is $300,000…the highest of any minority group. However, there are still challenges AAPIs face on the road to homeownership.
UNDERSTANDING THE AAPI EXPERIENCE
Over 77% of AAPI families speak a language other than English at home. The AAPI is linguistically diverse and vibrant. Over 77% of AAPI families speak a language other than English in their homes. Mandarin and Cantonese are the most common AAPI languages spoken, with over 3.4M speakers currently present in the U.S. The national Filipino language, Tagalog, is spoken by 1.7M Americans. Over 1.5M Americans speak Vietnamese, while over 1.1M other Americans speak Korean.
However, many AAPIs have Limited English Proficiency. LEP is a major obstacle hindering homeownership because of the gaps in communication, education and understanding needed throughout the homebuying process. For many businesses, simple translations can be the difference between no business and lifelong customers.
WHY SUPPORT MATTERS FROM A BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE
It is important to remember that the AAPI community, which also includes increasingly large population of multi-ethnic individuals, is a viable part of our economy. Some points relevant points on AAPI consumers from our 2019 State of Asia America Report:
Domestically, Asian American consumers would equate to the 4th largest state economy in the US.
AAPI buying power has increased by 257% between 2000 and 2017
The increase in AAPI buyer power exceeds the increases in buying power for all other racial and ethnic groups.
WHERE DO AAPIs LIVE?
One of the first things we have to recognize is that AAPIs are not only living in ethnic enclaves. Throughout major cities, there are epicenters for Asian Americans including Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Little Saigon, etc. Although these areas remain important for specific communities, Asian Americans neighborhood selection is quite diverse.
In the past decade, we’ve seen a large shift of Asian Americans move throughout the country including the Midwest and South. Educational and entrepreneurial ideas have fueled these patterns. According to Freddie Mac data, the median house price in 2018 for Asian-Americans was $428k and substantially higher than all other ethnic groups. Because of this, it’s clear that a majority of Asian-Americans are still choosing to live in expensive parts of the country.
AAPI AGENTS AND YOUR BUSINESS
AREAA’s membership is extremely successful. 74% of members have at least a four-year degree with a household income of nearly $160,000. Remember, the National Association of Realtors reports that full-time REALTORS earned about $100,000 (NAR Member Profile).
Besides their earning potential, AREAA members are dedicated to growing their business. Our members average 14 years in the real estate or banking industry.
To attract these top agents, it will likely be important over time to become more and more supportive and welcoming.
On average, AAPIS are high earners, both at a household and personal level. With an average media household income of $73k, AAPI families bring in 39% more than household average incomes of $53k.
However, different AAPI segments produce varied rates of income. For example, Indian-Americans average $100k, Filipino-Americans average $80k, Japanese-Americans average $74k, and Chinese-Americans average 69.8k. The average for AAPI personal income is $66k, compared to the $50k national average. The buying power of this group is said to exceed $1 trillion with a 33% increase by 2022.
42% of all millennials own their own home and 43% of Asia American millennials are homeowners.
80% intend to buy a house in the next 5 years. 62% of Asian American millennials have a grad degree compared to the US average of 28%. 94% of Chinese millennials plan to buy property in the next five years and a large part want to buy in the US.
If you have a desire to attract AAPI agents and the community at large, the first step is to be involved and participate.
This includes joining AREAA and making sure you share membership details with your agents. This is the type of statement that shows support.
Along with membership, brokers and managers are encouraged to actively participate in the 42 AREAA chapters across the nation and Canada. Chapter presidents are always looking for speakers to participate in local Lunch & Learns.
As you begin this journey, active participation is highly encouraged. Members who become board of directors on their local chapters have great influence.
PROMOTE YOUR INVOLVEMENT
Because Realogy and your brand are AREAA partners, you have the right to utilize AREAA logo in promotions. You can use it on your website, in marketing materials, listing presentations, etc. You can also share your involvement on social media internally and externally. To request the AREAA logo email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DON’T SWEAT SAYING THE WRONG THING
The overwhelming majority of AAPIS are incredibly enthusiastic to share their culture, through their food and customs when those around them show a desire to care, get involved and offer support.
As a majority of non-Asian Americans do not know how to differentiate between Asian Americans of different ethnicities, it is ok to ask. Listen to how an Asian-American person identifies and simply be respectful.
It is important to understand which stereotype might be a sensitive area. There is a widespread perception that Asian Americans are not “American” but are instead “perpetual foreigners.” A question like “Where are you really from?” could be sensitive, as many Asian Americans are not immigrants but rather born in the United States.
There is also an idea that Asian Americans are the model minority because of their strong work ethic and academic and professional success. The model minority concept can be emotionally damaging to some Asian Americans, particularly since they are expected to live up to those peers who fit the stereotype. The model minority myth also fails to distinguish between different ethnic groups with different histories.
May is Asian Pacific Heritage Month (APAHM). During APAHM, communities celebrate the achievement and contributions of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans with community festivals, government-sponsored and educational activities. This is an opportune time to show support!
Of course, AREAA chapters are putting on dozens of events during this time including AREAA Day in Texas, and AREAA Builds Community Day.
Beyond APAHM, throughout the year are important holidays including Chinese New Year, Tet, Holi, Dilawi, and Laotian New Year just to name a few. These events are also wonderful opportunities to participate, get involved and show your support.
While the Fair Housing Act celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018, there is still so much more work to be done. An overview of this important act is available on HUD’s website. HUD lists steering as an example of housing discrimination and something Asian Americans are prone to experiencing.
AAPIs are a diverse group and their interest in neighborhoods will reflect that. When pressed on where to live, explain what you can legally provide and encourage your clients to talk to school principals and community leaders.
The AAPI community in your market is likely represented by several media outlets. Along with advertising, and/or supporting AAPI agents who wish to advertise, you can also have a discussion with the editor about how you can help share real estate information, home buyer and seller tips, etc.
Just about every real estate company in the nation is active in supporting charities in their community. Some communities even have a nearby AAPI center. An easy step towards becoming more welcoming is to donate/ assist a charity who positively impacts AAPIs. Your support would be welcomed along with the opportunity to share on social media and within your company.
DO THE RIGHT THING
Realogy and all of its brands were founding partners of AREAA. While the financial support has been wonderful, nothing is more powerful than being engaged and participating. Having Sherry Chris, Tanya Reu and other brand leaders consistently be present at AREAA National Events has made a lasting impact. And the same can be said when a local affiliate leader makes it a priority to get involved.
Thankfully, it is becoming more of the norm for AREAA members to include a diverse group of non-Asian Americans within the organization.