Median Home Prices Continue to Surge in DC Suburbs in Wake of Amazon HQ2 News

June 7, 2019 by HJ Mai

Rising home prices in some of the country’s largest urban centers have put the America Dream of owning a home out of reach for many middle- to low-income families.

While the nation’s capital and its surrounding suburbs are regularly ranked in the top 10 of the most expensive places to live in the United States, the so-called “Amazon effect” could render the D.C. metro area even more unaffordable.

A recent analysis by the real estate market platform Realtor.com showed that the median list price for homes in Arlington, Virginia has risen by more than 17% since the Seattle-based tech giant announced that the D.C. suburb will be home to its second headquarters.

“At the time of Amazon’s HQ2 announcement in November 2018, Arlington’s median home price was $640,000,” Realtor.com said in a news release last month. “The median home price in the area has sky-rocketed since then, increasing by a whopping $110,000, or 17.3 percent, to $750,000 in April.

Comparatively, over the same time frame, the national median list price has only increased $17,000, or 5.5 percent.”

Realtor.com added that Arlington’s housing market is “unable to keep up with overwhelming demand” as its inventory fell almost 50 percent in April.

When Amazon revealed the location of its new headquarters, it selected not only Arlington, but also New York City. The company promised to invest $5 billion and create more than 50,000 jobs across both locations.

However, the promised job creation and investment was not enough to convince New Yorkers that the nearly $3 billion in government incentives were worth it.  

Only three months after its announcement, Amazon reversed course and scrapped its plans for a location in the Big Apple following large backlash from local residents and elected officials.

In November, protests led by State Senator Michael Gianaris and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer featured signs reading “Scamazon” and “Rent hikes now with two-day shipping.”

Amazon pointed to such opposition as the reason for its decision to abandon its New York plans.

“After much thought and deliberation, we’ve decided not to move forward with our plans to build a headquarters for Amazon in Long Island City, Queens,” the statement read.

The fear of skyrocketing rents and home prices, which has plagued Amazon’s original home of Seattle, was one of the primary concerns among New Yorkers. And the recent Realtor.com analysis appears to prove that point.

The real estate platform referred to the contrast between New York and D.C. amid the Amazon decision as a “tale of two housing markets.”

“Although the initial announcement instantly fueled the housing markets in both cities, Amazon’s later decision to pull out of Queens, N.Y., has cooled the Manhattan market, while Arlington continues to remain hot,” Realtor.com said.

The median list price on Manhattan has seen a mere 2.4%, or $40,000, growth to $1.69 million since November.

The reaction to Amazon leaving New York City has been mixed and the latest housing market numbers will likely only solidify each side’s point.

While some, including freshman Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., celebrated Amazon’s decision as a triumph of the common man over corporate greed, others lamented the loss of $27.5 billion in new tax revenue over 25 years and the negative impact to the city’s tech community.

Though there has been pushback in Virginia as well, Amazon may have learned from the NYC fiasco. At a February meeting, representatives from the tech company said they hoped to be “good neighbors” and want to “build a sustainable long-term partnership” in Arlington.

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