Could Immigration Crackdowns Crash the Housing Market?

Immigrants, both documented and undocumented, are a growing factor in the demand for new housing. In the long term (or sooner), the Trump Administration's hard line on newcomers could lead to instability for the rest of us.

1 minute read

March 20, 2017, 6:00 AM PDT

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

Arizona Suburb

Tim Roberts Photography / Shutterstock

Who's renting or buying all that new suburban tract housing, especially in the Sun Belt? Increasingly, it is people who haven't been long in the United States, including some living here without documentation. In 2013, a Mortgage Bankers Association study found that "in this decade, immigrants nationwide will account for 32.2% of the growth in all households, 35.7% of growth in homeowners and 26.4% of growth in renter households."

It also found that foreign-born residents are buying homes at an increasing rate. And that's not just in your typical "immigrant" states. Edward Helmore writes, "while immigrants were once concentrated in a few gateway states, such as California, New York and Florida, the pattern of immigration after the 2007 economic crash is less concentrated."

The study's author warns that many immigrants pool incomes to purchase homes. Take away only one of those parties, and the purchase can no longer happen.

Another observer points out that while a crackdown on undocumented immigrants alone could chill the market, the real danger is a long-term drop in immigration of every kind. In time, that could critically depress both the housing market and the market for talent in this country.

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