Immigration reform could boost housing market

Real estate experts said that new immigration legislation could improve the housing market by increasing the demand for homes in the United States. The nation has experienced an excess in unoccupied homes because of the fluctuating economy, and the 11 million immigrants who could earn a path to citizenship would help occupy some of these homes. According to the National Association of Realtors, minorities and immigrants made up 35 percent and 19 percent, respectively, of the first-time buyer market in 2007.

The Research Institute for Housing America reported that home ownership in the U.S. fell to a 17-year low of 65.3 percent in the end of 2012, but among immigrant households it has steadily increased. The new immigration law would allow those applying for citizenship to have access to mortgages, which could cause the market to skyrocket within the next few years. Purchasing houses is popular among immigrants, as they see it as a way to fulfill their American dreams. Many immigrants purchase homes after renting for a few years.

“Immigrants are an important and growing source of demand that has bolstered housing markets in recent decades,” said Professor Dowell Myers in a March report from The Mortgage Bankers Association’s Research Institute for Housing America.

Gary Acosta, CEO and co-founder of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, said that giving legal status to immigrants could boost the housing market by $100 billion and add more than 3 million home owners in the next few years.

While the recent low mortgage interest rates have increased home purchases and depleted existing inventories, as in much of the U.S., hurdles still remain for many foreign homebuyers who cannot meet the strict mortgage requirements or face tight credit conditions. However, real estate professionals still remain positive about the success of the market.

“Bottom line, the shadow economy moves to the grid, and that comes in the form of credit and revenue… terms of taxes,” Jonathan Miller, president and CEO of Miller Samuel Inc., told Real Estate Weekly. “I think the way it’s going, we hope it has a positive impact.”