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Homeownership common among the foreign-born

While many immigrants living in the U.S. have been able to send money overseas to their families in recent years, they’ve also been earning enough to put money down on a home of their own, recent statistics reveal.

According to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, more than half of foreign-born U.S. residents – 52 percent – owned their very own property in 2011, the latest year for which data is available. This contrasts with about a 67 percent homeownership rate for U.S. residents and citizens who were born in the country.

While the rate of homeownership was high among all foreign-born residents, it’s particularly common among individuals who’ve naturalized. The Census report notes that foreign-born residents who’ve gone through the naturalization process were more likely to be homeowners, as approximately two-thirds of them could be classified as owner-occupiers. The rate of homeownership among non-citizens, meanwhile, was 34 percent.

Elizabeth Grieco, chief of the foreign-born population branch at the Census, indicated that homeownership is something virtually every American hopes to achieve at some point in their lives and it’s clear that those who came here from overseas have similar aspirations.

“Homeownership is a goal shared by many residents of the United States, both native- and foreign-born, citizen and noncitizen,” said Grieco. “For immigrants in particular — who maintain nearly one in seven households in the U.S. – making the transition from renter to homeowner represents a significant investment in the United States.”

Lengthy stays increase likelihood of homeownership
And it appears as though that the longer immigrants have been in the U.S., the more likely it is that they wind up purchasing a property eventually.  For example, among foreign-born householders that came to the U.S. 33 years ago, approximately 75 percent owned their own residence as opposed to rented. Meanwhile, among individuals who have lived in the U.S. in the past 13 years, about 25 percent owned rather than rented.

There were also some disparities when it comes to where immigrants lived. Among foreign-born householders who live in the Northeast, the rate of homeownership was above the 52 percent average in parts of New York and Pennsylvania. In fact, throughout much of New Hampshire, the foreign-born homeownership rate was in excess of 60 percent.

According to the Immigration Policy Center, there are about 69,500 immigrants who live in the Granite State, 54 percent of whom are naturalized.

There was a tremendous amount of variability from one state to the next outside of the Northeast. For example, New Mexico’s homeownership rate among foreigners was in excess of 60 percent, but it was below 40 percent in Washington, D.C. 

There was also some level of unpredictability for homeownership among foreign-born householders who originated from certain parts of the world. For instance, the rate of owner-occupied status was under 40 percent among households headed by someone who was born in Africa, which contrasts with 66 percent of Europeans.

The Census Bureau’s statistics coincide with those released by the National Association of Realtors this past June. In its Profile of International Home Buying Activity, NAR notes that residential purchases among the foreign-born totaled $82.5 billion between March 2011 and 2012, up from $66.4 billion when contrasted with the same 12-month span the previous year.

International buyers represented the largest portion of real estate purchases in states where the immigrant population is high, including Florida, California, Texas and Arizona, NAR numbers show.

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