Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
FILE - Skyline of Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018.

SALT LAKE CITY — A new report ranks Salt Lake City third among U.S. cities for the highest percentage of African American homeowners.

Meanwhile, the Beehive State ranked second for homeownership overall, according to a study from SmartAsset.

Using U.S. Census data, researchers at LendingTree ranked the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the country by the percentage of the black population in those cities that own homes to find the U.S. cities with the highest percentage of black homeowners.

U.S. cities with the highest percentages of black homeowners:

  1. San Jose, Calif.
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Salt Lake City
  4. San Antonio
  5. Portland, Ore.
  6. Riverside, Calif.
  7. Austin, Texas
  8. San Diego
  9. Providence, R.I.
  10. Denver

The cities with the highest percentages of black homeowners were San Jose at No. 1, with Los Angeles second followed by Salt Lake City. In Salt Lake, 1.59 percent of the population identified as African American and 59 percent of the black population are homeowners, explained LendingTree research analyst Jacob Channel.

The report cited census data showing that the nationwide homeownership rate among white Americans registered at 73.2 percent, while homeownership for African Americans across the country was 41.1 percent. Channel said numerous factors contribute to the rankings, including relatively lower levels of institutional housing discrimination in the Western U.S. compared to many areas of the South and the eastern United States.

He also noted that African Americans or other minorities who migrated to Utah and other Western states may often have been more financially capable of purchasing property than others who may have been forced to live in certain areas of the country and prevented from becoming property owners due to institutional racism.

"They might be able to come in (to areas) with some savings to better prepare them to enter into the housing market," Channel said. Though slavery ended in the 19th century, the residual impacts of institutionally discriminatory policies have impacted minorities in the decades since, he said.

While blatant discrimination has decreased over time, some areas of the nation are affected more or less than others. In this case, Salt Lake City seems to have been less impacted, he said.

One local researcher challenged the estimates cited by LendingTree. James Wood, Ivory-Boyer senior fellow at the University of Utah's Kem Gardner Policy Institute in the David Eccles School of Business, said Salt Lake City's share for black homeownership is only 13 percent with just 215 black homeowners. Channel attributed the discrepancy to different data sets.

In a separate study from SmartAsset, the Beehive State ranked among the top states for homeownership value overall.

The online financial technology firm recently released its annual list of 'The Best States for homeowners in 2019," with Utah ranked No. 2 overall just below Idaho and ahead of South Dakota. The study looked at nine key metrics comparing information from every state (except Vermont, which had missing data).

Mary Archbold

The study analyzed averages for price per square foot, effective property tax rate, closing costs, homeowners insurance as well as medians for value-to-median-income ratio, annual property taxes, the one-year percentage change in value per square foot, foreclosures per 10,000 homes and the burglary rate in each state.

With relatively low costs in a number of metrics, Utah ranked very favorably in many ways for homeowners, explained A.J. Smith, vice president of Financial Education for SmartAsset.

She noted the Beehive State registered an average property tax rate of just 0.62 percent, the third-lowest in the top 10 and 11th lowest overall. Utah also ranked highly based on the average closing costs on home purchases — fifth lowest in the country, she said.

Utah scored very well for average annual homeowners insurance costs at $634, the third-lowest in the study, she noted. However, Utah didn't fare well when it came to foreclosures, with the state ranking no. 34 out of 49 with a rate of 4.19 foreclosures per 10,000 homes, Smith said.

"Foreclosures are more common in Utah than in the average state," she said. "It's the 16th highest number of foreclosures per 10,000 homes."

This was the second straight year that Utah ranked No. 2 overall in the yearly study. The Beehive State has climbed into the top three after ranking 10th in 2015, fifth in 2016, seventh in 2017, she said.

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"There can be a lot of advantages in being a homeowner," Smith said. "But the truth is that is going to depend on your (individual) situation."

Consumers should consider multiple factors when deciding to purchase versus rent housing, she said. Homeownership requires certain financial attributes that everyone may not have, she added.

"We hope that this (study) gets people thinking about these different kinds of factors, then running the numbers for themselves and making a smart decision for themselves and their families," Smith said.