By Liz Dominguez
Last month, Amazon announced the search for its second headquarters (HQ2). The online marketplace giant has not yet slipped about what city they are leaning towards. Perhaps a look at CEO Jeff Bezos' real estate investments will give us an inkling.
Check out Bezos' current homes. Are any of these located in a city that fits the bill for HQ2?
- Bezos owns two homes in Beverly Hills. One was purchased in 2007 for $24.45 million, and the other was purchased this past July for $12.9 million.
- He purchased the Washington, D.C. Textile Museum in October for $23 million. It is being renovated into a private residence by architect Ankie Barnes.
- He bought a 1920s ranch in Culberson County, Texas to recreate the feeling of the Lazy G, a Texas ranch his grandfather retired in and the place Bezos spent summers at.
- He purchased three units in New York City for $7.65 million, and also bought the next door unit for $5.3 million in 2012.
- He bought a 5.3-acre property for $10 million in Medina, Wash., in 1998. He built another property on the lot in 2004, and bought the property next door in 2010.
While his Beverly Hills location doesn't meet Amazon's population requirement of more than 1 million people, the city is surrounded by heavily populated cities such as Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Santa Monica. According to the 2010 U.S. Census of Population & Housing, most residents (about 55 percent) are under 44 years of age—an important dynamic if Amazon is looking to hire young talent. Realtor.com® reports California is on their hottest markets list; however, the state's lack of affordable housing may be a risk factor for Amazon.
If a diverse population is what Amazon is looking for, then Washington, D.C. may be the best choice. The city has a reputation for being a meeting place of different cultures, ages and experiences. Transportation can also be a benefit, as Washington boasts the cleanest and most efficient transportation systems in the world. Zillow reports Washington, D.C. is a very hot real estate market, with home values up 3.2 percent year-over-year.
While Culberson County may not be what Amazon has in mind for its next big location, more populous cities like Austin and Dallas may be in the running. Out of the two, Dallas may be a better fit transportation-wise, as Austin can be limiting if Amazon wants an easy access city. Austin, however, has a reputation for offering a unique culture and may work better for Amazon's search for a "happy" city.
In terms of real estate, the Dallas markets are healthy, with home values up 2.9 percent year-over-year, according to the August Zillow Real Estate Market Reports.
The Big Apple checks off a lot of Amazon's boxes: culture, diversity and young talent. But does it have the "viable real estate options" and a "development-prepped site," as Amazon asks for? New York City already has a reputation for high real estate prices. The addition of HQ2 may pose a problem if home prices are hiked up even more.
If Bezos truly wants to stick close to home, Medina or another Washington location may be his go-to. Word has it, however, that Amazon will not be looking in their own home state for HQ2. While Medina boasts "the most sought-after waterfront in the Pacific Northwest," its small-town feel isn't exactly what Amazon is looking for.