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Zillow survey: Atlanta, northern Virginia likely for Amazon HQ2

Housing experts and economists put these two contenders at the top of the list for their location and real estate markets


Tough luck, New York. Amazon is likely to pick Atlanta or northern Virginia for its second headquarters, according to a survey of housing experts and economists conducted by Zillow.

Zillow asked a group of 100 experts which of the 20 cities on Amazon’s shortlistfor HQ2 — a new full-fledged headquarters for the tech giant outside Seattle that will bring at least 50,000 jobs and upend the local housing market — had an edge as a decision approaches.

Experts responding to Zillow’s Home Price Expectations Survey answered the question alongside Zillow’s usual quarterly poll about the U.S. housing market. Of the 85 responses Zillow received, 12 said Amazon was most likely to pick Atlanta, 12 said northern Virginia, 11 picked Austin, nine chose Raleigh, North Carolina and six picked Denver.

The economists and experts chose Atlanta for its cost of living, with the fourth-lowest home values and rents of the cities on Amazon’s list. The median home value in Atlanta is $187,600, according to Zillow. The survey respondents gravitated toward northern Virginia for its proximity to Washington, D.C., policymakers.

“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,” Zillow Senior Economist Aaron Terrazas said in a statement. “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. 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. 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.”

The experts surveyed by Zillow considered other factors besides the housing market. In Atlanta, land availability, talent and business-friendly tax codes were persuasive. In northern Virginia, a growing tech workforce was a top reason alongside proximity to D.C.

Zillow’s survey respondents said Los Angeles, New York and Miami were the least likely to be picked by Amazon because of high housing costs, traffic and taxes. Dallas, Nashville and Pittsburgh fell in the middle of the list.

Amazon has said it’s looking for a metro area with over 1 million people and a “stable, business-friendly environment.” Cities have offered billions in tax breaks in attempts to woo Amazon, although not everyone thinks Amazon’s arrival in their city would be a good thing.

Others have speculated that Amazon would choose Pittsburgh for its housing market or New York or Newark, New Jersey, for their locations. An analysis by BestPlaces in January also flagged Atlanta and the Washington, D.C., area as top contenders.

Amazon is expected to choose a second headquarters by the end of 2018.

Email Emma Hinchliffe

Article image credited to Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

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