And one potential life saver may be new immigrants.
Here's a link to a study by Albert Saiz, a University of Pennsylvania economist, who argues that cities with rising numbers of (legal) immigrants see both home prices and rents go steadily up.
Saiz even has it down to a formula. Looking back at the housing market between 1983 and 1997, the good professor finds that housing prices rose 1.7 percent for every percentage point in population growth in a major metro area driven by new immigration.
In fact, even if the job market continues to stink, demand by new immigrants for housing will drive a recovery in home prices, while further pushing up rents, contends Gary Painter, research director at the University of Southern California's Lusk Center for Real Estate.
Here's what Painter was scheduled to say to a conference of home builders today, according to a press release sent out by the university.
While immigrant households tend to have more people living under the same roof, there will still be enough demand for new homes and apartments to help fuel the recovery in the real estate market, he predicts.
Due to these demographic shifts, housing demand will come back, even if the job market remains weak. While there's little evidence that national homeownership rates will rise in the short-term, the maturing of the immigrant population supports a much better long-term outlook.
It certainly sounds reasonable to me. After all, we are a nation of immigrants, even if each generation tries to predictably shut the door on the next wave of newcomers.
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