Wondering how Amazon’s HQ2 is going to affect the region’s housing market? I attended a symposium hosted by George Mason University and the Northern Virginia Realtors Association to provide exactly that insight. The event included a panel of experts – six presenters offered their views on different elements of the impact. Key takeaways include:
- The Washington area is very different from Seattle, where Amazon is headquartered – the scale of our market, the demographics, transportation, etc. — could not be more distinct.
- HQ2 employee migration will bring about 38,000 total jobs over 16 years – and just 400-700 in 2019.
- Most Amazon HQ2 workers are expected to be homeowners but the number of new owners will constitute a very small share of homebuyers. This translates to just a one to five percent increase in demand in the region.
- The strongest demand for housing will be in Arlington and Alexandria — obvious to its proximity to the Crystal City area.
- The HQ2 hype is much bigger than the actual projected impact on the area’s housing market:
- Sandy Paul of Newmark Knight Frank, a commercial developer, noted that the longer-term impacts of HQ2 on workforce development is a bigger deal than any shorter-term impacts on home prices, rents or new construction.
- Notably, Michelle Winter of the Alliance for Housing Solutions made the point that the region already has a significant housing affordability problem and a major housing shortfall; Amazon won’t change that.
While Amazon’s decision is exciting for the region and will be a driver of long-term economic growth, potential home buyers and sellers in general should not expect a significantly different housing market than is typical in Northern Virginia. But the market for specific neighborhoods on Arlington and Alexandria could be in demand by new Amazon workers. And single-family homes in some closer-in neighborhoods in the $700,000 to $900,000 price range could see relatively strong interest from new Amazon employees.