The American Dream in Reverse

<p>With housing prices out of reach for many immigrants in the U.S., more and more are investing in houses in their home countries -- and their governments and local lenders are doing all they can to encourage it.</p>
July 7, 2008, 2pm PDT | Nate Berg
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"It is the American dream in reverse: Arias is part of a growing contingent of immigrants who are gobbling up real estate in their native countries, discouraged by high housing prices and foreclosures in the United States and enticed by the possibility of returning home to a better life than the one they left behind."

"Developers from countries such as El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Peru are increasingly courting immigrants at housing fairs across the United States, including two events in Massachusetts in the last few weeks. Thousands of immigrants are buying homes in their native countries every year, and more private lenders and some governments are offering financing to sweeten the deal."

"Often, they cannot qualify for mortgages because they live in the United States, so they send money to relatives who oversee construction of a home. Even when immigrants qualify for loans, he said, interest rates are often prohibitively high."

"In recent years, though, more real-estate developers, private lenders, and governments are making it easier for immigrants to buy homes directly, according to government officials and the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington. The Dominican Republic's government is allowing immigrants to apply for up to $10,000 in aid for down payments. In Mexico, mortgage lender Su Casita had loaned about $66 million in mortgages to 1,420 Mexican immigrants in the United States as of early last year."

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Published on Monday, July 7, 2008 in The Boston Globe
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