With Amazon’s HQ2 on the way, a housing boom begins in Northern Virginia, echoing Seattle

A look at the first phase of Amazon’s HQ2 campus in Northern Virginia. (ZGF Architects Rendering)

The HQ2 housing rush has begun.

With the first of 25,000 new Amazon employees set to arrive in just a few weeks, the housing market in Northern Virginia is heating up rapidly. Axios reports that the housing supply in areas like Alexandria and Arlington that are near the HQ2 site is dwindling faster than the region as a whole and prices are rising rapidly as buyers and sellers scramble to get in position for Amazon’s arrival.

Redfin reports that the median home sale price in Arlington rose 17.7 percent annually to $655,000 in April. That pace well exceeds the D.C. metro area as a whole, which saw prices rise 2.7 percent in April.

Housing supply was down 41.8 percent over the prior year in April, the biggest annual drop since March 2013. In the run-up to Amazon’s arrival, Redfin agents said their clients are adding $10,000 to $20,000 to their asking prices, and homes are selling quickly.

“The Arlington market is smoking hot,” Redfin agent Mara Gemond said. “I can’t remember the last time I had a client make an offer that didn’t face competition. Over the last few months, most of my homebuyer clients cite one of two scenarios, and speculation about Amazon’s impact is part of the thought process for both: They want to buy now either because they’re concerned they’ll soon be priced out of the market, or to secure an investment property for rental and future resale.”

Overall, the Washington D.C. market saw the third-fastest turnaround time for a sale in the U.S., with the typical home going under contract in 10 days in April, per Redfin. D.C. trailed only Amazon’s hometown of Seattle and Tacoma, a city 35 miles south of Seattle, for fastest home sales.

The trend beginning to unfold in the D.C. area is all too familiar in Seattle, where Amazon’s explosive growth has played a role in juicing the housing market in recent years. Axios notes that Seattle’s home prices have doubled over the last six years.

In a statement, Amazon said it planned to grow its footprint slowly and “hire people who live here so the impact on the region will be minimal.” The company added that the region’s plans for access to housing played a role in choosing Northern Virginia for HQ2.

Amazon is moving along with HQ2 planning, and the company said in late April it planned to hire approximately 400 people in the area this year. Today, the Northern Virginia job site shows 19 open positions.

Northern Virginia now sports the lone title of HQ2, after Amazon pulled out of its proposed New York location earlier this year.

Last week Amazon filed development plans for the first phase of its HQ2 campus: A pair of 22-story towers with a combined 2.1 million square feet of office space. The site will also feature 50,000 square feet of space for restaurants, retail shops and a daycare as well as 1.1 acres of green space.

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