Black pre-retirees have only a fraction of the housing wealth of white pre-retirees, says a new report from Boston College’s Center for Retirement Research.

The paper found two reasons that home values are invariably higher for white households than they are for their Black counterparts as their primary earners approach retirement.

First, those in Black households typically have a harder time coming up with an initial down payment. Second, the homes they do buy tend to be in neighborhoods that don’t appreciate in value as rapidly. Both factors were equally important contributors to the wealth gap facing Black homeowners as they approached retirement.

“Homeownership is one of the largest sources of retirement wealth for most households and is promoted as a key tool for wealth accumulation,” wrote the study’s authors, Boston College economists Siyan Liu and Laura D. Quinby. “However, a long history of discrimination in the housing market has constrained the ability of Black households to accumulate housing wealth relative to their White counterparts.”

When it comes to smaller down payments, the authors noted that Black home seekers may be less likely to receive parental assistance in acquiring an affordable mortgage. In addition to lacking generational wealth, many Black households have lower incomes than white counterparts, which further hinders their ability to make a down payment, afford monthly mortgage payments and generally access the financial services needed to purchase a first home. Black families, the researchers found, “faced disadvantages in nearly every aspect of the housing market.”

As for the slower growth in home values, the study showed how Black families are “constrained to purchase less valuable first homes.” That is partly because of the historical “redlining” that forced Black families into segregated neighborhoods, the study said. These neighborhoods tended to have less public investment, and they continue to offer fewer amenities. In other words, redlining didn’t just limit the purchase prices of Black homes but actually depressed the subsequent appreciation of home values in these segregated neighborhoods.

The lack of parity may not be surprising. Liu and Quinby acknowledged that those in Black households tend to have annual incomes of less than $70,000 when they purchase their first homes, whereas white first-time home buyers averaged more than $90,000 in annual income. Black household heads were also less likely to have a college degree, were more often single, and had fewer children living at home.

When those in Black households first approached the housing market, they typically had just 74% of the wealth of their white counterparts. This resource deficit made them buy less-expensive first homes and, even so, delay the purchases, meaning they had less time to pay down the mortgage and their homes had less time to appreciate.

Even compensating for these and other demographic variables, the study showed that Black families generally have less housing wealth when the primary earner reaches age 55—that is, pre-retirement. “After controlling for income and basic demographics, Black homeowners approaching retirement have only 61% of the housing wealth held by older White homeowners,” wrote Liu and Quinby.

Overall, having fewer resources to support a down payment in the early years and slower growth in home values in subsequent years contributed equally to the disparate outcome in housing wealth by the time the primary earner had reached age 55.

One bright spot, however, concerned mortgage lending. In this aspect alone, the economists wrote, “conditions seem to be improving for young Black home buyers.”

Still, they suggested that future research should consider how structural changes in the housing market might alleviate some of these disparities.