Immigrants and the U.S. Housing Market – forestalling foreclosure

by Evelyn Latse, Esq.

It is no news that the U.S. housing market has suffered a devastating decline in the past few years.  One of the most hard-hit segments of the housing crash is the immigrant population. From lack of information to a lack of understanding of the U.S. housing market, many immigrants find themselves stuck with unfavorable mortgages. As a result they have witnessed their American dream quickly become an American nightmare.
While much has been written and said about the negative economic impacts of immigration, little is said about the positive economic impacts of immigration.  Immigrants contribute immensely to the growth of the U.S. economy, and consequentially, the housing market. Professor Albert Saiz of the University of Pennsylvania has observed that there is a positive relationship between increased immigration and housing prices.  Professor Saiz  noticed that an increase in immigrants in a particular location has a positive impact on real estate prices.  Similarly, former Presidential Candidate and Governor of Utah, John Huntsman, has suggested that America could revitalize its housing market by encouraging immigration, as Canada did when foreign buyers and immigrants, particularly Chinese, helped boost its housing market especially in Vancouver.
Needless to say, immigrants’ participation in the U.S. housing market would be beneficial to the U.S. housing market.  Similarly, as real estate has historically been the vehicle through which many Americans have created wealth, immigrants need not shy away from the real estate market.  Rather, immigrants must be encouraged to avail themselves of all the resources available to them when purchasing a home or avoiding foreclosure.  Despite the abundance of resources available to troubled homeowners, cultural, language and information barriers continue to prevent immigrant homeowners from seeking help when they need to save their their homes.
Following are some quick tips to help immigrants who are finding it difficult to make their mortgage payments.  Indeed these tips should be helpful to anyone struggling to keep their home:

1. Call your lender – lenders are willing to work with you in these trying times.  However, the onus is on the borrower to pick up the phone and make the call.  This process is widely called loan modification and many options are available.  Be careful, however, of scammers professing to help you save your home.

2. Consider a short-sale – short sale is when the bank agrees to accept less than what you owe on the mortgage. A short-sale is a complex real estate transaction that must be done with good legal counsel.

3. Consider a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure.  In a deed in lieu of foreclosure, the property owner deeds the property back to the mortgage lender.  The difference between this and a foreclosure is that the property owner avoids waiting around until the bank takes the house back through a sheriff or other sale.

4.  Research on local foreclosure prevention programs. You can call your local city hall or local attorneys for referrals.

5.  File for bankruptcy – this should be a means of last resort, and should only be done after exhausting all available remedies, and seeking good legal counsel.  Filing for bankruptcy may not necessarily help keep your home, however, for many individuals facing financial difficulty, filing for bankruptcy is a way to discharge old debts and get a fresh start.  That fresh start includes future home purchase after a set period of time.

6. Call a knowledgeable real estate lawyer.

Evelyn Latse, Esq., the author, practices real estate law and other areas of law.
She can be reached 908 587-6015

Please note that this article and its contents are for information only and do not constitute legal advice.  This article does not create an attorney client relationship and readers are advised to seek private independent counsel for their particular cases.

Posted by on Dec 23 2013. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply