El Paso

Realtors: Crackdown on undocumented immigrants could affect housing market

Realtors: Crackdown on undocumented...

EL PASO, Texas - It's still unclear in cities like El Paso exactly how President Donald Trump's immigrant crackdown will affect the economy although some expect it to impact the housing market.

ABC-7 spoke with local realtors about the situation. An analysis of U.S. Census data shows more than half the immigrants in this country own homes now.

A large scale change in the number of undocumented immigrants could depress demand for homes and drive prices down, experts say.

"Every time a home is sold, there's about $22,000 put back into the economy," said Dan Olivas, president of the Greater El Paso Association of Realtors. "The vibrancy of this community in part and parcel is due to those individuals who come over here to shop, who come over here to clean yards, who come over here to clean houses, who come over here and buy homes. They are part of our economy."

Some home loan companies even directly market to immigrants, like DreamerFinancing.com, which markets directly to Dreamers, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients.

"Overall, I think that the scare of the crackdown is just as bad as the actual crackdown, as far as the impact on the El Paso economy," Olivas said.

It's hard to know exactly how many undocumented immigrants live in homes in the United States, however a recent study by the Migration Policy Institute estimated more than three million undocumented immigrants live in a home that they, a friend or a family member owns.

"We've got to be very practical about the fact that there's three million here, but they don't exist in a bubble," said Lyn Haston, general manager of ERA Sellers and Buyers in El Paso. "They're living someplace, so they're paying rent, or helping somebody pay rent somewhere."

Haston believes the rental market will be impacted first and eventually that could hurt the housing market.

"It goes further than just what is the family life activity of families being broken up," Haston said, "you're going to do the economic breakup as well."

Olivas and Haston told ABC-7 they haven't seen a big impact on the housing market yet, but were quick to point out undocumented immigrants also buy cars, clothing, food and other things, all of which could eventually impact the housing market.

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