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LendingTree Reveals the Cities with the Most Foreign-born Homeowners

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New LendingTree study ranks cities by the immigrant homeownership rate.

The Census Bureau recently released data that shows the United States has the highest proportion of immigrants since 1910. In data for 2017, the Census Bureau found that 13.7% of the U.S. population was foreign-born.

Economic studies generally find that immigrant communities contribute to growth in the economy by starting businesses, increasing the labor pool and adding demand for housing. A recent study examining these effects was released by Oxford University and Citi Research, a division of the financial services firm Citigroup. The study estimated that economic growth from 2011 to 2016 would have been much lower without the impact of immigrants and that most of the post-crisis gains in the economy would have been eliminated.

The Citi study found that high-skilled immigrants gravitate to the most dynamic urban centers. This inspired LendingTree to dig deeper into the Census data to identify how cities in the U.S. rank in terms of the proportion of homes owned by foreign-born households. Out of the 50 largest cities in the country, those with a higher share of homes owned by foreign-born residents tend to have higher home prices. This is not to say that immigrants raise home prices — rather, it’s likely that immigrants gravitate towards these cities which have higher home prices, as they also have more dynamic economies and thus more employment opportunities.

The proportion of highly-skilled immigrants is also higher in these cities which puts some upward pressure on home prices as a secondary effect. Thus, homeowners in cities with high foreign-born populations benefit from faster home price appreciation, creating opportunities for them to access this wealth via refinancing their mortgage or home equity extraction. This added spending can in turn boost the economy or provide capital to fund new businesses.

Home prices and foreign-born homeownership rates are highly correlated

  • Key findings
    Cities with larger foreign-born populations and homeowners have higher home prices. Prices for the top 10 cities average $491,750 compared with $167,560 for the bottom 10.
  • But the lead city has modest home prices. Miami is top of the list with 26% of homes owned by foreign-born residents, but has a median price of just $278,700.
  • Immigrants love the coasts. The rest of the top five are also coastal cities, all in California with 17% and higher foreign-born homeownership rates and home prices above $300,000.
  • Some bargains are available. In addition to Miami, more affordable cities with high immigrant populations include Houston at No. 6 and Las Vegas at No. 7.
  • Cheaper cities are mostly shunned. Immigrants show little interest in bargain hunting in the cities towards the bottom of the list. The percentage of foreign-born homeowners in the bottom five cities is below 3%, despite home prices averaging about $160,000.


Cities in America with the most foreign-born residents

#1 Miami
Foreign-born homeownership rate: 26%
Foreign-born population: 41%
Median value: $278,700

#2 San Jose
Foreign-born homeownership rate: 25%
Foreign-born population: 39%
Median value: $957,700

#3 Los Angeles
Foreign-born homeownership rate: 18%
Foreign-born population: 33%
Median value: $617,100

Cities in America with the least foreign-born residents

#48 Cincinnati
Foreign-born homeownership rate: 3%
Foreign-born population: 5%
Median value: $165,500

#49 Louisville, Ky.
Foreign-born homeownership rate: 3%
Foreign-born population: 6%
Median value: $168,600

#50 Pittsburgh
Foreign-born homeownership rate: 2%
Foreign-born population: 4%
Median value: $153,300

50 largest cities ranked by foreign-born homeownership rate

To determine the cities with the highest foreign-born homeownership rates and population, we looked at data pulled on Sept. 20, 2018 from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The data includes median home values that we also included in the study. Our definition of cities is from the Census Bureau’s Core-Based Statistical Area (CBSA) boundaries.


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