April 1, 2010
W10-7: Immigrants have become a growing force in the housing and home improvement markets in recent years. This research explores how key demographic, socioeconomic and locational characteristics impact the remodeling spending and project choice of foreign-born homeowners using data from the 2001-2007 American Housing Surveys. A major finding of this research is that immigrant homeowners spend about the same as native-born homeowners on average for home improvements and on a similar mix of jobs, despite the fact that immigrant homeowners have demographic, socioeconomic and locational profiles that would imply higher average spending. While the specific characteristics of foreign-born owners suggest they should be more active remodelers than native owners, once all of the major differences between immigrant and native homeowners are controlled for, it is apparent that average immigrant remodeling spending is estimated to be significantly less than spending of comparably situated native-born homeowners. This finding implies that immigrant remodeling spending is on par with that of native owners only because of the skew in the composition along demographic, economic and geographic dimensions that matter to how much owners spend on remodeling. Moving forward, immigrant homeowners are expected to provide a strong and growing source of demand for the remodeling industry as they increase in number and spend longer in the country despite their propensity to spend less per homeowner, all else equal.
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