Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, more companies have opted to go remote, and now a new report from Zillow states that this new trend could benefit Black renters far more than other renters.
According to Zillow, black renters have the most opportunity due to their likelihood of working in more “remotable” industries, such as education and public administration. Due to this, and the income gap between Black renters compared to white renters—which can price them out of their location—Black renters have an increased opportunity to purchase a home in a less-expensive metro.
“Teleworking has opened up more options for my family. We’ve made a life here in Maryland, but with two small children being able to purchase a home back in Louisiana and be closer to my parents and our extended family is just what we need,” said Jonathon Holloway, a federal employee and Maryland renter who recently made an offer on a home in Louisiana. “With everything that has happened this year, it makes you stop and realize what is really important. And for us, that’s family. Without the ability to telework, we might not have been able to make this transition.”
Zillow found that this opportunity highly depends on the specific market. For example, in Baltimore, it is more likely for Black households making $30,000 to $40,000 to have primary earners in health care administration and office work—highly “remotable” job industries. In Phoenix, however, they are more likely to be in industries that are not as “remotable,” such as travel, hospitality, accommodation and food service.
“Although it’s well-known that the pandemic has been disproportionately harmful to Black communities, the rapid shift to remote work could make homeownership more broadly accessible,” said Zillow economist Treh Manhertz. “It’s a rare opportunity for those in a position to take advantage of remote work. Unfortunately, this shift will not be a major factor in closing the homeownership gap nationally. The larger-scale solution must be to create options for affordable homeownership locally. Moving away may be a newer option for some, but it shouldn’t be the only option available to achieve homeownership.”
Although white and Asian renters are much more likely to work in more “remotable” industries, said Zillow—such as finance, insurance and tech—their incomes more often allow them to purchase homes in their current metro areas. The report found that at the national level, teleworking could open homeownership to 4.5 percent of all renter households, including 9 percent of Asian renters, 3.7 percent of Black renters, 5 percent of Latinx renters and 4.1 percent of white renters.