How to Spot Immigration Opportunities in Your Market

Many real estate agents have used their ties to local immigrant communities to build a solid base of referral business. One of the best ways to spot those opportunities is via research. There are a surprising number of free resources available online.

When researching local opportunities, real estate agents interested in global migrations should concentrate on these questions for their immediate community:

  • Are there substantial numbers of foreign-born people?
  • What is the level of homeownership among these groups?
  • Which foreign-born groups are well represented?

U.S. Case Study

The U.S. Census Bureau is the best source of information about any U.S. county, MSA (metropolitan statistical area), or city. However, the amount and complexity of data at their main site is staggering. Searching its content can consume hours.

Luckily a sister site—American FactFinder at—makes it much easier to find valuable data, down to specific zip codes. In just minutes, you can access extensive demographics on any community drawn from various government surveys.

To glean insights on foreign-born populations and homeownership, it’s best to review these sections, which appear along the left side of the Community Facts pages: Housing, Origins and Language, Race and Hispanic Origin. Clicking on any section generates a list of popular tables drawn from various surveys. Unless you’re interested in historical trends, it’s best to concentrate on the tables listed under 2013 American Community Survey, particularly:

  • Housing:
    • Selected Housing Characteristics (including Own or Rent)
  • Origins and Language:
    • Selected Characteristics of the Native and Foreign-Born Populations
    • Ancestry
    • Selected Social Characteristics
  • Race and Hispanic Origin:
    • Demographic and Housing Estimates

Applying the Data to Build Your Global Business

The information may look like a lot of numbers, but woven together, it tells a story of where global opportunity may lie and will assist global real estate agents in building their global business.

For example, consider a global agent in Hartford, Connecticut attempting to identify global opportunities for his business.

He enters Hartford County into the American FactFinder. There are 133,118 immigrants in Hartford County, as of the 2013 American Community Survey, and they account for nearly 15 percent of the county’s people. It may sound like a lot, but many counties around major cities have between 13 and 25 percent.

To drill further, he looks at the table on “Selected Characteristics of the Native and Foreign-Born Populations” and finds that among the foreign born, there are slightly more naturalized immigrants than unnaturalized. Among naturalized citizens, the rate of homeownership is 71 percent, even higher than the native population’s 67.2 percent. Other options through American FactFinder identify even more specific neighborhood statistics.

Clearly, there are global opportunities in the Hartford area residential market. It’s not uncommon for MSAs around large cities to draw immigrants who want a suburban family lifestyle while being within city commuting distance. Overlaying immigrant share and homeownership data reveals a picture of the immigrant homeownership statistics for particular areas—no matter what market you’re researching within or outside of the U.S. Numerous cities/metropolitan areas have both a high share of immigrants (defined as greater than 13 percent) and high homeownership levels within them. See page 6 for several leading areas.

This is just one way to use online research to identify immigration-related business opportunities. Coupled with networking—and simply spending time becoming better acquainted with every aspect of your community—it can become increasingly clear where to find interesting and attractive niches of global business tied to immigration.

When immigrant share and homeownership data are overlaid, it’s easier to see where to find concentrations of immigrant homeowners.

10 Leading U.S. Immigrant Cities

In each of these cities, immigrants comprise more than 13 percent of the population—and more than 45 percent of immigrant heads of households are homeowners.

  1. Amarillo, Texas
  2. Atlanta, Georgia
  3. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
  4. Hartford, Connecticut
  5. Las Vegas, Nevada
  6. Los Angeles, California
  7. Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
  8. San Antonio-Austin, Texas
  9. Seattle, Washington
  10. Tampa, Florida

At the State Level

NAR’s State-by-State International Business Reports provide summaries of recent economic and demographic data related to international business activity in your state. You’ll also find:

  • demographics of foreign-born and countries of origin
  • foreign-born homeownership data
  • countries with the highest foreign direct investment and top export partners
  • detail on major MSAs in your state

Access your state’s report at If you only want a quick top-line summary, click on your state in the interactive map.

7 More Sources of Population Data

Canada: Statistics Canada at

England and Wales: Office of National Statistics at

France: National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies at

Germany: Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) at

Mexico: Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Geografia at

Migration Policy Institute: Access reports, policy briefs and an interactive map of immigrants by origin and destination at® data: Where are global buyers searching in the United States?

For a complete list of over 15 different censuses and surveys available via the American FactFinder, go to

Notice: The information on this page may not be current. The archive is a collection of content previously published on one or more NAR web properties. Archive pages are not updated and may no longer be accurate. Users must independently verify the accuracy and currency of the information found here. The National Association of REALTORS® disclaims all liability for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information or data found on this page.


About Global Perspectives

Global Perspectives in Real Estate is a resource for global professionals, aimed at helping them globalize their local markets. Produced bi-monthly, this newsletter serves as a how-to guide and is full of useful and actionable tips. A free subscription is given to all Certified International Property Specialists (CIPS) designees.

Learn more about earning the CIPS designation