Immigrants’ Propensity to Buy Homes

By SA Ibrahim

A few years ago, I would find myself in a cab going from Philadelphia Airport to Center City or the other way around. Almost always the cab driver was an immigrant and quite often from Punjab in India or from Bangladesh. Both immigrant groups have settled in large numbers in Upper Darby, a suburb just West of West Philly.

I would invariably get into a conversation about the cab drivers’ reason for coming to Philadelphia and frequently the story would go something like this: “ When I first came to America a few years ago, I lived with my relatives in Queens and started driving a cab. Soon I was able to rent my own place. Even though I was making good money, I realized I could not afford to buy my own home. So, I moved to Philadelphia, rented for a while and then bought my own home in spite of making less money. Now I have brought my family over from India and hope to buy another home in a couple of years to rent out to new immigrants until they can buy their own home.”

I was struck by the strong drive to be a homeowner and in conversations with immigrants of other backgrounds found the traits they shared, whether Hispanic, Asian, South Asian, African or Eastern European were, a strong love for America, the willingness and desire to work hard and build a better future for their children and an all consuming desire to own a piece of the American dream by owning their own home. I found this to be the case whether in Philadelphia, PA, Allen, TX, Redmond, WA, Naperville, IL, or Fremont, CA.

So, I read Alejandro Becerra’s article and found myself in agreement on the link between immigration and home buying.

As we approach the festive season throughout the world and people make their wishes for the new year, my wish is we remain a nation where the desire for home ownership stays strong, and success enables more people to achieve that dream, and become responsible homeowners. And whether renters or homeowners, we remain blessed and fortunate in being citizens of this great nation of ours.