Many different initiatives have been introduced over the past several months to revive the still-reeling real estate market, a key ingredient to our economy's well-being. Mortgage rates are near record lows thanks largely to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the government continuing to buy mortgage-backed securities on the secondary market. Home prices have come down to match those we had before the recent boom got going. But obviously more is needed.
One sector that would have a nice favorable impact on the demand side, without costing the taxpayer a dime, is the immigrants. For instance, every year 85,000 H1B visas are approved for foreigners with advanced education and skills. That's one thing. When the new application period kicked off in 2008, 163,000 of them where turned in during the first five days alone. Clearly, there still is a great interest around the world to come to America and it should be properly harvested. They would bring to the real estate market a buying group that generally is well-qualified to purchase a home.
The most-affected areas, like the Las Vegas valley, California, Florida and Arizona, would probably be the main beneficiaries of this influx of buyer demand. These states have been in the forefront of population growth in the past among Americans and would predictably attract many foreigners in the same way. The upcoming recovery needs to include these four states to be successful and long-lasting.
Relaxation of requirements for permanent residence status and other work permits should be included in the grand plan to revive our stagnant real estate market and through it the entire economy. It can be achieved on the cheap, too, by just adjusting the existing laws. No funding needed.