Over the past two decades, immigrants accounted for about 28 percent of all household growth in the United States and have been a critical factor in the housing market’s recent recovery. Immigration policy is poised potentially to have a big impact on the continued improvement and overall health of the U.S. housing market. Home in America: Immigrants and Housing Demand examines the influence of immigrants in shaping urban growth patterns, particularly those who have entered the U.S. since the Great Recession.
Among the key findings from the report:
- Without growth of the foreign-population, regions with strong housing markets such as San Francisco would not have recovered as quickly following the recession; and markets that continue to struggle in the recession’s aftermath such as Buffalo would have experienced even weaker growth.
- Immigrants have strong aspirations for single-family homeownership, and homeownership rates for immigrants rise with their length of time in the U.S. This suggests that immigrants will be a key driver for owner-occupied housing for years to come.
- Immigrants seeking to own homes as well as those renting homes are increasingly drawn to the suburbs in search of employment opportunities, lower-cost housing and a higher quality of life. Suburbs are home to high-income, high-skilled immigrants as well as lower-income, lesser-skilled immigrants.
- While immigrants represent a key source of demand for new housing, a substantial share of immigrant housing demand will be met through purchases of existing homes. Sellers of these homes – many of whom will be baby boomers seeking to downsize – will create a strong market for smaller units.
- Urban areas experiencing significant immigrant population growth should explore how to best accommodate immigrants and leverage the positive effect they have on the housing industry and economy. Investments in housing, retail, recreational and cultural amenities, as well as social assistance and education programs can help forge a strong connection between immigrants, neighborhoods, and the greater community.
- Just as housing demand by immigrants was a key factor in tempering the worst impacts of the housing collapse, this demand is now helping to build housing market momentum. Demand for homeownership and for single-family housing, as well as the continued growth of both urban and suburban communities throughout the country, will depend on the trajectory of U.S. immigration policy.