Trump Immigration Policy: Impact on Real Estate

The Trump administration’s plans to crack down on immigration and deport undocumented workers have made headlines around the world. But one area in which the new policy may have a surprising impact is the home real estate market.

Demand from foreign-born homebuyers represents an underreported sector of the housing market. This can be particularly true in cities with large populations of undocumented immigrants, who often fly under the radar of official statistics.

More than fifty percent of foreign-born residents in the US own their own home, compared to around sixty-six percent of residents born domestically. That statistic could spell trouble for home prices if foreign-born residents become discouraged from buying their homes.

There are three areas in which the new policy may impact demand. First, undocumented homebuyers may become less likely to risk buying a home if they worry that they (or a loved one) could suddenly be deported. The administration has said it may target as many as 11 million undocumented residents, so these fears are understandable.

Second, foreign-born residents who live in the US legally may also be nervous about buying a house, either over fears they or their family members may have trouble reentering the country after traveling abroad or over concerns that the administration may expand its deportation policy in the future.

Finally, legal immigrants who had been planning to move to the US and buy a home may rethink their plans, potentially choosing to emigrate to Europe or Canada in the face of increased scrutiny and uncertainty.

On the other hand, one part of the market that is less likely to be affected are foreign landlords looking to invest in US real estate, but who do not intend to move to the US. For markets with significant numbers of foreign-born landlords, such as Miami, real estate prices are better positioned to weather any downturns.

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