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List prices for homes near Amazon's HQ2 site in Arlington, Va., double

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List prices for homes near Amazon's HQ2 site in Arlington, Va., double

The median list price for single-family homes in the Arlington, Va., zip code of 22202 has doubled since November 2018 while inventory has dropped. These are signs that homeowners are looking to capitalize on Amazon.com Inc.'s plans for a $2.5 billion second headquarters in the area, according to real estate experts.

The trend is expected to continue as the e-commerce giant develops its 4 million-square-foot headquarters in Arlington, which will add 25,000 new jobs over the next 12 years.

The 22202 ZIP code that includes Crystal City saw the median list price for single-family homes reach $1.6 million as of June 2019. That is up from $780,000 in November, according to data by Rockville, Md.-based Bright MLS, the Washington, D.C., region's multiple list service. Amazon announced its plans to locate its "HQ2" in Arlington's Crystal City on Nov. 13. Zillow data shows that the median list price for single-family homes in 22202 was $1.05 million as of June, up from $864,000 in November 2018.

Meanwhile, inventory in the immediate area around HQ2 plunged, according to Bright MLS. There were a total of 14 active listings for all housing product in the 22202 ZIP code as of June, down 58.82% from 34 in October 2018 before Amazon made its announcement. According to Zillow, the number of active listings for all homes in that ZIP code was 17 as of June, down from 54 in June 2018.

Andrew Strauch, vice president of Bright MLS, told S&P Global Market Intelligence that the decrease in inventory means that owners are holding on to their properties to see how they appreciate as Amazon begins the process of developing HQ2.

"They are waiting to see what happens," Strauch said. "Inventory is going down because new listings are being purchased very quickly and very few new listings are actually coming on the market."

Comparatively, in other parts of Northern Virginia, active listings were down in nearby Alexandria 39% as of June, according to Bright MLS data. In McLean, Va., there has been little to no Amazon effect, with listings down 1% that month.

Jeannette Chapman, deputy director and senior research associate at The Stephen S. Fuller Institute at George Mason University, told Market Intelligence that it is important to note that the 22202 ZIP code is a "tiny market" where one month's data point is just a snapshot and a reflection of the unique mix of homes there.

That said, Chapman did note that "it does look like small homes and condo market activity has hit pause overall."

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Christine Richardson, a real estate agent with Weichert Realtors and the 2019 President of the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors, told Market Intelligence that she believes speculation is driving the market, with investors looking to flip properties or rent them out as well as young professionals who want to buy now for fear of being priced out of the market.

"They're like, 'Oh my goodness, if I don't buy tomorrow I'm not going to be able to,' " she said.

Tom Forte, managing director with D.A. Davidson Cos. who covers Amazon, was not surprised by the uptick in list prices around HQ2, telling Market Intelligence that he expects there to be some home appreciation around the second headquarters due to the influx of high-paying jobs. But he added there is an argument to be made about what degree the Arlington home market is being "exacerbated by speculation."

"There is a strong correlation between home prices and the expectations of the physical location of the second headquarters," he said.