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Immigrants seek to own homes in the suburbs

Will shape urban growth for decades

Crystal ball

Due to the strong desire among immigrants to own a home, their neighborhood location choices could have an impact on urban growth for decades to come, according to new research from the Urban Land Institute’s Terwilliger Center for Housing.

And now, foreign-born residents are seeking to own homes in suburban areas, the research shows, noting that homebuilders and developers who cater to these needs will stand to benefit in the years to come.

“Immigrants have helped stabilize and strengthen the housing market throughout the recovery,” Terwilliger Center Executive Director Stockton Williams said.

“Immigrants’ housing purchasing power and preferences are significant economic assets for metropolitan regions across the country,” Williams said. “This suggests the potential for much more growth attributable to foreign-born residents in the years ahead.”

The report Home in America: Immigrants and Housing Demand looks at the influence of immigrants in shaping urban growth patterns.

The report found that in places such as San Francisco and Buffalo the recovery would not have been as strong or as quick after the housing crisis if it were not for the presence of immigrants.

And while Hispanics were the only demographic to see an increase in homeownership rates last year, the report found that since 2010, the majority of immigrants that migrated to the U.S. from Asia surpassed those that came from Latin America. The homeownership rate for Asians decreased by one percentage point in 2016.

The report also showed the longer an immigrant has been living in the U.S., the higher their aspirations are to buy a home. These immigrants are increasingly drawn to the suburbs due to employment opportunities, lower cost of housing and a higher quality of life.

The report explains that 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, it states.

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