There’s been endless analysis, comparisons and speculation ever since Amazon announced this January that it was considering 20 finalist cities for its second U.S. headquarters – a so-called HQ2 competition. In July, six economists and analysts from CoreLogic’s Office of the Chief Economist each picked a city from that finalist list and discussed why it might win the HQ2 competition. They are Washington D.C., Chicago, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Atlanta.
Amazon says its new headquarters will accommodate 50,000 employees, who will swell the ranks of homeowners and tenants in the region. So, is there an adequate housing supply in the finalist cities? How affordable are these locations, and what might happen to the housing market of the city that wins the HQ2 competition? Using CoreLogic data, we can see how the housing markets in these cities stack up.
Among the 20 markets, supply is lowest in Denver and highest in Miami (Figure 1). Denver had the lowest months’ supply of 2.4 months in August, only two thirds of the national level and 0.3 months less than in Amazon’s hometown Seattle. Median days-on-market in Denver was only 12 days in August, about a quarter of the national level. On the other hand, Miami, which is oversupplied with luxury condos, had the highest months’ supply of 9.2 in August, almost four times the months’ supply in Seattle, and the median days-on-market in Miami was almost double the national level.
The months’ supply in a market impacts home prices. CoreLogic MLS data shows that buyers aren’t able to negotiate much of a price discount relative to the initial list price in cities with a very low supply. While there is not much difference in the months’ supply in most of the finalist cities, the average discount from the initial asking price varies a lot. Among finalist cities, Miami’s average discount in August was highest at 7.5 percent, followed by Philadelphia with a 5.3 percent discount. However, in Los Angeles and Raleigh, the average price discount was only 0.8 and 1 percent, respectively. On average in August buyers didn’t pay a premium over the initial asking price in any of the cities.
Table 1: Months’ Supply, Median Days on market, Average Price Change in August 2018
Median Days on Market
Average Price Change (Close Price - List Price)
Los Angeles, CA
Montgomery County, MD
New York City, NY
Meanwhile, home prices and price growth are very different among these candidate cities (Figure 2). Toronto and Los Angeles are the only two cities that had higher median home prices than Seattle in August. While Philadelphia’s median home price was below the national level and less than half of the median home price in Seattle, the year-over-year home price growth in August was the highest among the finalists.
Looking back at the housing market in Amazon’s current headquarter in Seattle, home prices and rents have appreciated 81 percent and 58 percent, respectively, since January 2010, while the employee number in Seattle alone increased from 5,000 in 2010 to more than 40,000 in 2018. The cumulative home price and rent growth are more than the national level of 49 percent and 35 percent. Seattle’s average months’ supply in 2018 is only 20 percent of the average in 2010. Although Amazon wasn’t the only contributor to Seattle’s housing boom, it’s not surprising that these candidate cities are competing with attractive incentives to host Amazon’s second headquarters. With the end of the year approaching, let’s see which city the winner will be.
 Toronto and Pittsburgh do not have months’ supply or days on market due to limited MLS coverage. Indianapolis and Nashville’s data are from MIBOR REALTOR® ASSOCIATION and GREATER NASHVILLE REALTORS®. Washington DC and Northern Virginia are combined into Washington DC Metro.
 U.S. months’ supply and days-on-market are aggregated from 240 CBSAs.
 Toronto median home price and home price growth data are from The Canadian Real Estate Association, adjusted with exchange rate 1.3 CAD per USD in August 2018 from U.S. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
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