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At Home with Diversity.

Multicultural Buyers: The New American Melting Pot

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By Cindy Fauth

Just a cursory glance at your television is evidence: the demographic of the U.S. population has changed dramatically in the past decade. America’s population is more diverse than ever before, and savvy real estate agents should prepare now to serve a multicultural base of clients.

Multicultural buyers have been important to the health of today’s housing market. Over the next decade, as more baby boomers put their homes on the market, and population shifts continue across the U.S., the role of multicultural buyers will become even more significant. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Asian and Hispanic populations each increased 43 percent since the last U.S. Census. As the fastest growing ethnic groups in the U.S., they will comprise the largest segments of tomorrow’s buyers.

Why You should Pay Attention

Multicultural buyers will continue to seek buying opportunities in today’s soft market. “Though most potential first-time buyers are on the fence about buying a home, multicultural buyers, on average, are less so,” says Oscar Gonzales, principal of the Gonzales Group, a firm that provides analysis of demographic and economic trends for the real estate industry.

Multicultural buyers are buying in all 50 states. Minority populations grew by double-digit rates in all but three states, and the growth rate was often highest in rural states. Before 2000, most immigrants were drawn to existing communities in six gateway states: California, New York, Texas, Florida, New Jersey and Illinois. As of 2009, about half of all immigrants lived in non-gateway states. Between 2000 and 2010, the foreign-born population increased by more than 50 percent in nine states, including South Carolina, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina and Wisconsin.

Households headed by children of immigrants aged 25-64 typically have higher incomes than any other native- or foreign-born household segments in that age group, states the Joint Center for Household Studies at Harvard University’s Kennedy Center. Today and over the next 50 years, these will be second-generation Hispanics and Asians.

The buying power of Hispanics and Asians is expected to grow faster than the rest of the population in the near term. Buying power, defined as total post-tax income, for Hispanics and Asians more than doubled the growth rate for the total U.S. population between 1990 and 2009, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia.

Who Is Buying in Your Neighborhood?

To get a breakdown on the scope of international commerce closer to your home, look at the State-by-State International Business Activity reports from NAR (available at www.realtor.org/statereports). Click on any state link to download demographic data, foreign languages spoken in households, immigration trends, import/export statistics and more. Use this data to enhance your overall knowledge and understanding of the international market in your state, and in other creative, promotional ways.

Cindy Fauth is the Global Marketing Manager for National Association of REALTORS®.

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