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How landing Amazon’s HQ2 could impact Atlanta renters

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In short, it could be worse.

A photo of luxe apartment high-rises such as Midtown’s YOO on the Park are already commanding north of $3 per square foot.
Going up? Luxe apartment high-rises such as Midtown’s YOO on the Park are already commanding north of $3 per square foot.
Curbed Atlanta

When researchers last year declared Atlanta the 53rd most affordable rental market in the land, we polled local renters to determine how many of them honestly felt “cost-burdened.”

Surprisingly, more than 60 percent were either okay with their current renting situation, or even convinced this city is still a bargain.

But could landing Amazon’s second headquarters—the corporate windfall of a generation, with a projected 50,000 tech jobs averaging six figures—change that tune for Atlanta’s non-homeowners?

That’s what online rental service Apartment List set out to determine in a study that asks how much Amazon HQ2 would balloon rents in 15 metros vying to land the big Bezos fish.

For apartment-happy Atlanta, the findings suggest that rents would swell, but not to the degree of competitors from Baltimore to California.

Local rents, per researchers, would tick up by an additional .5 to .7 percent annually with Amazon in town.

“Although a 1 or 2 percent rent increase per year may not sound like a lot, the additional rent growth comes at a time when rents are already rising rapidly nationwide and half of renters are cost-burdened, spending 30 percent or more of their income on rent,” notes Apartment List.

Between 2005 and 2015, average rents in Atlanta have been swelling by 2.5 percent annually.

To arrive at their logic, Apartment List combined historical building rates with what they call an “ease of building factor.”

What’s working in Atlanta’s favor? It has relatively high vacancy rates and thus “slack” where Amazon employees would slide in.

In the decade ending in 2015, per Apartment List, Atlanta averaged more than 25,000 building permits annually—more than any metro except Dallas.

“As a metropolitan area of almost six million, Atlanta is better equipped to incorporate the inflow of new workers and build enough housing for its growing population,” wrote researchers. “Most of the increase in rents in Atlanta would be due to an increase in the number of higher-end apartments rented by Amazon workers earning far more than the current area median of $36,340.”

Now for a broader view: