Experts still split on which city could deliver HQ2 for Amazon

by Steve Randall05 Mar 2018

Sometime this year we expect Amazon to make its decision on which city will be home to its second North American headquarters, known as HQ2.

The choice will deliver significant benefits for whichever of the 20 shortlisted cities is successful.  They can expect high demand for homes and a big boost for the labor market.

"As the experience of Seattle suggests, Amazon will not only directly bring thousands of high-paying jobs to the chosen city, but also has the potential to transform the regional economy," said Zillow Senior Economist Aaron Terrazas. "The local jobs boom that Amazon's HQ2 promises will spur demand for the full spectrum of housing types – ranging from urban apartments to suburban single-family homes.

So which cities are the experts backing?
The largest share of 100 housing industry and economics experts convened by Zillow and Pulsenomics believes that, while in theory any of the 20 could be selected, it comes down to just 2.

First is Atlanta, chosen by the experts with the fourth lowest home prices and rents according to Zillow’s Home Price Expectations Survey. This would clearly be an advantage for a firm aiming to employ as many as 50,000 workers.

“Atlanta has the benefit of being one of the most affordable markets in the country and is undergoing an urban renaissance with new public infrastructure providing attractive opportunities for employers seeking to lure young urbanites,” explained Terrazas.

Atlanta also has good land availability, talent pool, and business-friendly tax codes.

The second choice makes sense politically. It’s Northern Virginia, part of the DC metro, which lacks the home affordability benefit of Atlanta (one of the more expensive on Zillow’s survey) but would put the company close to Washington policymakers. It also has a large tech workforce.

“Northern Virginia has its benefits as well, as it's close to a highly educated workforce and a well-developed public transit infrastructure in the D.C. area," added Terrazas.

Los Angeles, Newark, New York and Miami were the cities respondents said were the least likely to be chosen by Amazon.

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