AUSTIN (KXAN) – Homes owned by Black families gained in value more than any others across the U.S. during the pandemic years, according to a new analysis by Zillow.

Black-owned homes have historically been appraised for much lower than homes owned by Non-Hispanic White Americans. In 2018, the Brookings Institute found that homes in Black neighborhoods were valued at 55% lower than the median home value in White neighborhoods. 

The Zillow analysis found that because of this appreciation in home values since the pandemic, began, this disparity is the smallest it has been in more than two decades. 

The increase was not as pronounced in Central Texas. In Austin, the home value gap between Black-owned homes and homes overall shrunk by less than a percentage point since Feb. 2020, according to Zillow. 

“The fact that the homes owned by Blacks are appreciating faster and kind of trying to play catch up now means [that homes are getting] better amenities and maybe better schools in those neighborhoods and communities. So that’s the good news,” Orphe Divounguy, Zillow Senior Economist, said. 

Looking at U.S. Census Bureau data, Zillow researchers found that Black homeownership is also increasing. From 2019 to 2021, Black homeownership increased by about 2%. This is compared with an average increase of 1.3% overall, according to the analysis. 

In Austin, about two of every five Black people own a home, while around three of every five White Austinites do. Though modest, Zillow researchers found that Black ownership in the area has increased by around 1% since 2020. 

“It’s really important to realize that the key to wealth building in this country is still homeownership,” Divounguy said. “The homeownership rate for Blacks is still much lower than it is for other groups. Less than half of black households own their homes across the country.”

“Anything that can be done to help people get on that first rung of the homeownership ladder is going to be key to kind of [getting] rid of these wealth gaps that tend to persist,” he continued. “I think there’s a lot of hope.”