Undocumented Hispanic immigrants would add an estimated $44 billion in new mortgages to the housing economy if barriers were removed and they were given access to buy homes in the United States, according to a study released Monday.

The study, commissioned by the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, asserts that nearly a quarter million of the estimated 1.5 million undocumented immigrant households in the U.S. could become homeowners if barriers such as identification, legalization, traditional credit requirements and language were no longer issues. The report states that the flow of capital from these home purchases also would stimulate business across the financial services, construction and remodeling and retail sectors.

“Undocumented Latinos are an invisible element in our economy today…This is a matter of economics. As homeowners, these people would make enormous contributions to local communities all across America,” said Gary Acosta, chairman and cofounder of NAHREP.

The study also found that:

  • Many of the undocumented Latino householders have age and income characteristics associated with potential home ownership. Renters and homeowners number more than 600,000 householders aged 35 years or more and 721,304 undocumented householders have household incomes of $30,000.

  • More than 215,000 currently undocumented householders could become homeowners if they had legal status.

  • Some 172,626 current undocumented renter householders could potentially afford a home worth $94,500 or more.

  • Undocumented immigration status creates major barriers to home ownership because immigrants have difficulty proving their identification and credit history. At this time, mortgage-market giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae do not finance mortgages taken out by the undocumented. Lenders are increasingly accepting Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers issued by the IRS as a form of identification. Legal status is necessary, however, to fully incorporate undocumented households into the mortgage lending industry.

NAHREP, a nonprofit trade association for Hispanic real estate professionals, commissioned the report because undocumented Latinos continue to present a dilemma to professionals in the real estate, housing and lending industries. In many instances, these home buyers have been in the country for many years and have the willingness and income to purchase a home but cannot get past identification and other barriers, the group states.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to samantha@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 140.

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