A pair of U.S. senators, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, has hatched a plan for boosting demand for the nation’s vacant housing.
Sell the homes to wealthy foreign nationals and give them the right to live here, say Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Democrat Sen. Charles Schumer of New York.
They introduced a bill last week that would allow foreign nationals to buy the homes and in return they could live in the United States legally, though they would not be allowed to work here but would have to stay in the states at least six months out of the year.
The foreign nationals will have to pony up at least $500,000 cash. It could be one piece of real estate costing $500,000 or more, or several – one would have to be worth at least $250,000.
“This is a way to create more demand without costing the federal government a nickel,” Schumer told the Wall Street Journal.
Robert Reich, former secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration and current Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy University of California at Berkeley, said in a recent blog the scheme is drawing a lot of love from bankers and Realtors.
“Rather than have the big banks carry all those non-performing mortgage loans on their books or be forced to write them down, we’ll just goose the housing market by selling off the right to live in America,” wrote Reich.
And the measure wouldn’t allow in the world’s riff-raff, because buyers would have to be rich enough to pay cash, and live here six months a year without working, Reich noted.
But while rich foreigner buyers may be a boon to American homeowners looking to sell, American homebuyers – many of them young, just entering the market – could be priced out of the residential market, Reich warned.
In Mississippi we’re getting ready to follow the example of Arizona, Georgia and Alabama by slamming the door shut on poverty-level migrants, mostly Hispanic, who lacked the right papers. But with the Schumer-Lee bill, the only paper you’ll need will be of the legal tender variety.