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Are Foreign-Born Home Buyers Your Next Target Market?

NEWTOWN SQUARE PA – A real estate sales licensee’s ability to understand and work well with foreign-born home buyers, and maybe even his or her ability to speak a language other than English, may be important tools in dealing with what is foreseen as a growing and increasingly important immigrant community which holds a positive view of home ownership.

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 on which Bloomberg Businessweek magazine reported last Tuesday (April 2, 2013). It also cited recent research by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals that concludes foreign-born home ownership could rise even higher if changes to U.S. immigration laws gave undocumented workers “more opportunities” to buy property.

A similar article appeared last month in The Wall Street Journal.

Immigrants generally hold more positive views toward owning a home than native-born Americans, the mortgage bankers’ study indicates. Consequently, it added, they are more likely to buy a house as they prosper and as they live longer in the country. It projected that, by 2020, “61 percent of Hispanic immigrants who arrived here nearly 40 years earlier will own a home.”

Immigrants already 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.

Passage of an immigration reform bill, being pushed by President Obama, may generate about 3 million more home buyers over the next several years, according to a report last week from the Hispanic real estate professionals.

Foreign-born home buyers still face significant hurdles, the Bloomberg article noted. Lending standards remain strict for first-time buyers of any stripe, foreign-born or American. Moreover, lenders currently favor refinance applications over home purchasers, sources told its reporters. Finally, they added that low inventories of properties for sale is an acute problem in some states that also have high immigrant populations.