Everyone keeps wondering where Amazon will put its new second headquarters. What I want to know is – where are its workers going to live?

No matter which city they choose, they will be in a market with a housing shortage.

That is especially true here in the Atlanta area. We simply cannot build houses fast enough for the workers that keep moving here.

Over the last several years, our city has averaged an annual job-creation number of around 90,000. Similarly, we’ve seen the metro area grow by about 90,000 people. But not similarly, we’ve only averaged about 25,000 new-home starts.

The new Amazon HQ2 will create 50,000 jobs. Some of those jobs will be taken by workers who already live here, but many will come in from outside of Georgia.

If you read my column, you know that buyers for houses priced under $500,000 are battling each other. Inventory in some markets around town are as low as 2 months (a healthy inventory – the number of months it would take for the market to dry up if no new houses were listed – is six months).

And there isn’t really any relief in sight. Unemployment is as low as its ever been.

I’ve talked to builders who admitted to going to other job sites to convince sub-contractors to leave and come work on their projects.

Even if we did have enough capacity to build as much as we wanted to, I wonder if we could.

Unless you live out in Forsyth County or Hall County, you probably are not seeing that much raw land sitting around anywhere.

Or if you are, it won’t be cheap enough to buy and build houses that would sell for under $400,000 – unless you are a nonprofit with some very nice donors.

I’m certainly not advocating that we don’t want Amazon here. I definitely believe we do.

They are very quickly becoming one of the most important companies on the planet. They are the new storefront for, well, everything.

If you want to sell anything on a regional, national or global scale, it could be that before long you’ll need Amazon’s blessing to do so. And every time someone thinks they’ve found a weakness, their CEO Jeff Bezos makes a bold move that makes his company that much more dominant in what it does. It bought Whole Foods last year because groceries were one of the few things it was not able to provide well. It will be fun to watch how that plays out and what they do with it.

No matter how you feel about them, Amazon will continue to become one of the most dominant companies on the planet, and it would be smart and fortunate for us here in Atlanta to get to be a part in that.

The jobs are great, but I’m also excited about the influence.

I’m not exactly sure what exact functions will be run out of their campus. A friend had a theory that they wanted to get into shipping and wanted to move here because of all the logistics talent in Atlanta.

Or maybe they want to be near UPS for collaborative purposes.

It has been quit a process and I’m sure a lot of folks will be glad when they finally pick their city. When they do, that city will have to get cracking. Because no city that it would pick will be ready to house that kind of an influx of new employees.

If you haven’t noticed, there is a new trend where people are living in old shipping containers. You can stack them pretty high. That might be an appropriate fix if Amazon comes here.


Geoff Smith is a mortgage banker with Assurance Financial focusing on residential home loans for refinances and home purchases. *The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of Assurance Financial Group.

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