Saturday, April 19, 2008

Memphis realty company stops writing mortgages for illegals

In 2007, Su Casa Realty, Spanish for "Your House," sold about 300 homes in the Memphis area, including 60 to people using ITIN numbers rather than Social Security numbers. But Su Casa Realty has stopped selling homes to immigrants without Social Security numbers, that is, immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

Because of the sub-prime housing crisis, banks have cracked down on credit, said Juan Romo, part owner of the Century 21 franchise. His company is not likely to return to writing mortgages for illegal aliens, he said.

Federal law allows banks to offer mortgages to illegal immigrants, if the immigrants present an individual tax identification number, or ITIN. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) willingly gives ITINs to illegal aliens so that they can pay income taxes. But Romo said he's done with ITIN mortgages for now. "It's better to invest your time with people with bad credit now than with the ITIN number."

It is still against the law to either enter the country without inspection or overstay a visa, but businesses have been successful in recent years in lobbying for lax enforcement. Many immigrants in the U.S. illegally use fake documents to get jobs, and some earned enough to buy homes. But with the economic slowdown, fewer illegal immigrants can afford homes. Some employers are also checking documents more carefully and turning illegal immigrants away.

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