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A lobbyist working for Amazon registered for Georgia’s ethics commission, sparking rumors that the e-commerce giant is eyeing Atlanta for its much-hyped “HQ2.” The company responded Tuesday saying Jacob Oster’s presence isn’t related to the search for Amazon’s second headquarters — although Atlanta is an odds-on favorite in the race. 238 cities and regions submitted bids to win the $5 billion HQ2, which promises to bring thousands of high-paying jobs to the chosen location.

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Amazon (-0.35%) announced it'll be opening new "headquarters" in both Crystal City, Virginia and Long Island City, New York...with Nashville getting a smaller logistics center as a consolation prize.

It was the most high-profile quest for commercial real estate since the Brew decided we needed a Warehouse 2 for sticker storage.

This story has many angles

You could...

  • Applaud Amazon for investing billions of dollars and creating tens of thousands of high-paying jobs.
  • Wonder how those jobs might have changed the fortunes of smaller cities (any Detroiters in the house?) rather than the wealthy Northeast.
  • Use Amazon's HQ2 search as a case study of all that's harmful about tax incentives (Amazon's receiving more than $2 billion in incentives across locations).

But let's focus on how Amazon's arrival is affecting the local real estate markets in its chosen locations.

Long Island City

Per the WSJ, Amazon's interest in the Queens neighborhood has "unleashed a condo gold rush."

  • In the six days following initial reports LIC was a strong contender, searches for residential property in the neighborhood on StreetEasy.com increased 295% from a week earlier.
  • "Clients I hadn't spoken to in seven or eight years started texting me...I sold 20 apartments via text," a real estate exec told the Journal.

Not all are happy about the inevitable housing crunch, according to Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

turn your images on

Crystal City, VA

It's more of the same, writes the WaPo:

  • "A two-bedroom condo on Crystal Drive, listed more than a month ago at $559,900, generated little interest" until Amazon's intent was known. Then, "The seller, without waiting for the official announcement, raised the price by $20,000."
  • "Realtors have compared the anticipation of an Amazon arrival to the Super Bowl, with amateur investors caught in the excitement gambling on home prices rising."

Bottom line: Amazon's HQ2 search went from a fun guessing game...to a PR liability...to what some consider a farce. Other companies will think twice about copying Bezos's playbook.

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