Shortly after naming 20 cities to its “short list” as finalists for its second headquarters, Amazon.com issued a demand for confidentiality on all offers and negotiations between those cities and itself on the topic of HQ2. According to Amazon, the project will bring in $5 billion in investments to the winning city along with at least 50,000 jobs. However, many critics of the company say that the massive financial and legislative incentives being offered to the company might not be worth it, and there is no way to know for sure.
In a bid to increase transparency in the currently fully opaque process, activists representing labor unions, housing advocacy groups, and political reformers spent a full day protesting and rallying for more information. Some protesters also congregated outside Amazon’s main Seattle headquarters as well. Amazon estimated in its HQ2 whitepaper that the company spent $4 billion in Seattle and created a $38-billion boost to the local economy in just six years (2010-2016).
Investor Insight: Amazon’s HQ2 will have a huge impact on the housing and real estate markets wherever it ultimately lands. Insight into the selection process could help you leverage your presence in the finalists’ markets.
Housing analysts note bringing a huge influx of workers into any market changes the housing environment, but smaller cities, such as Newark, New Jersey; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Raleigh, North Carolina, are likely to experience a bigger, faster bump and more market volatility than larger cities like Atlanta, Georgia, or Boston, Massachusetts. “[Those smaller cities] are also slowly climbing back to the housing prices they saw at their peak, pre-recession levels,” noted Bankrate columnist Natali Campesi. Frank Nothaft, the chief economist for CoreLogic, added, “Wherever Amazon HQ2 ends up, it will bring down vacancy rates for rental homes, and it would bring down vacancy rates for homes that are on the market for sale, as well.”
“If you’re an owner in one of the smaller markets and Amazon comes to town, then you’re going to think you’ve died and gone to heaven,” added MIT economics profession Bill Wheaton.