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Immigrant Influx into Mid-Size Metro Areas to Influence Housing Markets

Gary Painter and Zhou Yu
Immigrants to the United States and their descendants are predicted to reach 82 percent of U.S. population growth in the next four decades (Passel and Cohn, 2008). The exponential growth will not be limited to established gateway cities where it typically has concentrated; an increasing share will occur in mid-size metropolitan areas (Table 1) (e.g., Frey and DeVol, 2000; Massey, 2008). Since the turn of the century, for example, the number of new immigrants has jumped by 27 percent in mid-size U.S. communities, a remarkable contrast to the steady decline in established gateway cities such as New York and Los Angeles. Noteworthy as well is that many mid-size metro areas, up until recent years, had not experienced an influx of immigrants since the 1965 immigration reform (Frey, 2003). This rapid entry paired with a lack of already established immigrant communities will have a considerable and unforeseeable impact on mid-size metro areas. The question for the real estate industry is how the immigrant dynamic will affect housing in these areas, particularly at a time when the populous and aging Baby Boomers are retiring and leaving the housing market (Frey and DeVol, 2000; Myers, 2007).