Why Amazon HQ2 is already rattling the local housing market

The online retail giant’s plans have already driven up property and rent prices, putting pressure on low-income residents

Jul.July 11, 2019 11:00 AM
Jeff Bezos and Amazon HQ in Silicon Valley (Credit: Getty Images)

Amazon will open a second headquarters in Northern Virginia (Credit: Getty Images)

They don’t call it the Amazon effect for nothing.

The online retail giant has been causing some consternation in Northern Virginia, even though it has yet to start work on its corporate campus there.

The company announced in November it would open its HQ2 in Arlington, and residents say they have been inundated with interest in the months following, according to the New York Times. Many say Amazon’s plans have already driven up property and rent prices, putting pressure on low-income residents.

Tech companies have faced mounting scrutiny in recent years over their impact on housing and communities. In June, Amazon announced it would donate $3 million to a nonprofit organization, the Arlington Community Foundation, which focuses on affordable housing and homelessness in the area.

James Younger, a homeowner in South Arlington, said he had received about two inquiries a month since the announcement. Before, he received about two a year. “I’m certainly not going to sell it,” he told the Times.

Amazon plans to hire 400 employees for the mega-campus campus by the end of 2019, and more than 1,000 additional employees in the years that follow. It will purchase several development sites for a total of 4.1 million square feet of buildable space, in addition to leasing 500,000 square feet in the short-term.

“That day in November, I got more Zillow calls, inquiries and leads off of Zillow than I did the entire month of October,” Michelle Doherty, a real estate agent focused on South Arlington, said, according to the paper.

A report by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis showed that house prices were rising in Arlington County, and could spike by as much as 17.2 percent by the end of the year.

But Christian Dorsey, the chairman of the Arlington County Board, said it wasn’t clear whether rising prices could be attributed directly to Amazon, which has not yet arrived in the area. [NYT] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan

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