It is looking more likely that the comprehensive immigration bill the Senate passed last month will end up stalling in the GOP-controlled House. Although Republican partisans probably don’t realize it, killing immigration reform could do serious collateral damage to the housing recovery.
Most economists believe that bringing 11 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows would be a boon to the economy, and boost tax revenues in the bargain. It could also put as many as three million legalized immigrants in the market for a home, according to the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals.
The housing market has seen such a sharp and furious rebound in the last year that many experts are now wondering if we are repeating the crazy go–go days of 2007. That’s not likely with rates still at historic lows thanks to the Federal Reserve. We could see some corrections, but nothing like the sickening 30 to 40 percent plunge housing prices took when the bubble burst last time.
One troubling sign, however, is the dearth of first–time homebuyers. In normal times, first–time homebuyers account for about 40 percent of new home sales. In May, that number fell to just 28 percent, down from 36 percent two years ago. The decline was due to cash–heavy investors, a tepid job recovery and tighter credit. That number won’t sustain growth in housing.
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