Efforts to revamp U.S. immigration laws may bring at least one unintended benefit for the economy: The nascent housing recovery will probably get an added boost.
The number of foreign-born homeowners will increase by 2.8 million in the decade ending 2020, compared with a 2.4 million gain in the previous 10 years, according to a Mortgage Bankers Association study that didn’t assess the potential impact of any new legislation. Research by a group of Hispanic real-estate agents concludes the increase could be even bigger if undocumented workers were put on a path to citizenship.
Immigrants, who hold more positive views toward owning a home than native-born Americans, are increasingly likely to buy a house the longer they live in the U.S. and the more prosperous they become, the research shows. They will account for more than 50 percent of the rise in home buying in six states this decade, including California and New York, according to the report.
“We’ve probably underappreciated this powerful force that is already resident here and is so upwardly mobile that it pushes up the housing market from the bottom,” said Dowell Myers, author of the MBA study and a public policy professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles who studies housing demography. “There’s this incremental momentum that’s built up.”