Charlotte is competing against hundreds of other cities across the country for a chance to land Amazon’s second headquarters site, and if it’s chosen, experts say home prices in the area will skyrocket.
In September, Amazon announced it would build a second headquarters somewhere in the United States. According to the Seattle-based company, the project, dubbed HQ2, could bring as many as 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in capital investment to the winning location. Responses to the call for proposals were due Oct. 19 and four communities in North Carolina submitted bids, including the Charlotte region, Hickory, the Triad region and the Research Triangle area.
Hadi Atri, president and CEO of RE/MAX Executive, said the project requires a big chunk of land, and if Charlotte wins, there are only two areas where that kind of space is available: near the airport and near UNC Charlotte.
If the headquarters is built near the airport, Atri said neighborhoods around Lake Wylie could see revitalization, and also the SouthPark area where there is access to shopping and smaller, ranch-style homes that can be torn down to build mansions.
Atri said the average price point in Charlotte for a 2,200-square-foot two-story house with a two-car garage in a good neighborhood is $270,000, but that will change if 50,000 Amazon employees with high-paying jobs come to the area.
“It all depends on where Amazon is going to end up, if they’re north or west or what, but no matter where they are, if there are neighborhoods that are in close distance, number one it’s going to increase their value,” he said. “It’s going to make housing prices go up, and that’s something people are concerned about.”
But is Charlotte’s housing market and inventory even equipped to handle that kind of influx of new residents? Atri thinks it can, but not all at once. He expects Amazon’s first batch of employees to be around 5,000, and that most of those people will be hired locally.
“Those people already have a home (in Charlotte), so I’m
assuming the impact will not be as much right away,” he said, adding that those who do relocate will probably rent for six months before buying a home. “However, if they bring in 5,000 people in the first phase and they all want to buy a house at the same time, it’s going to be a problem.”
Still, he said, it’s possible the inventory will be available because people are selling their homes at a good rate. Approximately 40,000 houses are sold in Charlotte every year, including resales, which Atri explained are current residents who have sold their home and are buying another home in Charlotte. Only about 12,000 of those sales are to new, first-time homebuyers in Charlotte.
At the end of the day, however, Atri said the amount of available housing doesn’t really matter, because Amazon’s decision will ultimately come down to other factors.
“It’s not whether or not we can handle it, but do we have our transportation in Charlotte? Can we handle those people? Are we as culturally sophisticated as some of the competition?” he said.