Since the recession, there's been concern over the lack of new households formed and the decreased rate of homeownership in the U.S. And while some suggest that the share of people who choose to buy instead of rent should never ratchet up to the nearly 70 percent seen at the height of the bubble, many lament the loss of the American Dream,which promoted buying a home as a symbol of success and adulthood.
But in some groups the dream, at least of homeownership, is alive and well. During the past two decades, immigrants have accounted for 27.5 percent of all household growth, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. When it comes to growth among younger generations, the foreign-born population is even more significant, accounting for nearly all the household growth for those under the age of 45.
Last year, immigrant households made up 11.2 percent of owner-occupied housing according to the JCHS—that’s up from only 6.8 percent in 1994.
Household Growth Between 1994 and 2014, by Age
The exact rate of homeownership varies among different immigrant groups, but overall the share of immigrants who own homes is growing. In 2000, the rate of homeownership among immigrants stood at 49.8 percent, according to a study by the Research Housing Institute of America. By 2010 the rate was 52.4 percent, and by 2020 that number will climb to about 55.7 percent, the study predicts. In the third quarter of 2014 the overall homeownership rate in the U.S. was 64.4 percent, according to the Census Bureau.
There are several reasons behind the growth rate in homeownership for immigrants, but part of the impetus may be that many immigrant populations are less cynical about the idea of homeownership than their American-born counterparts. “They view homeownership as a piece of the rock. It's a benchmark of being settled,” says Dowell Myers, a professor at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at USC. “They view homeownership as the American Dream and they buy into that.”