RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Real estate firm Zillow’s advisory panel of 100 experts on housing has bad news for the Triangle.

The region won’t win the Amazon HQ2 prize of 50,000 jobs simply because “it’s too small.”

The Skinny reached out to Zillow for more information after its Wednesday report on how Amazon HQ2 would affect rents in each of the 20 metro areas declared as finalists by Amazon should that region be picked,. Raleigh would be among the hardest hit, the Zillow research shows.

On that point: Did Zillow also include Durham since the North Carolina bid of multiple sites include some outside of Raleigh?

After all, if one looks at Raleigh-Cary-Durham-Chapel Hill as one metropolitan statistical area, or MSA, rather than separate ones, the economic data is vastly different in many respects.

Also, buried deep a blog about the post was other news: Zillow’s experts predicted that either Atlanta or the Washington D.C. area is the most likely winner.

So The Skinny wanted to know: Why was the Triangle not selected? After all, RTP and surrounding territory has scored very well and not so well in a host of surveys and studies since the Amazon project was announced and the final 20 candidates disclosed. So what makes Zillow’s findings different?

Here is an edited email conversation with a Zillow spokesperson about the study and questions it triggered:

  • Can you tell me some of the reasons in yours and/or their view why Raleigh-Durham was not selected?

The reasons the experts said Raleigh was not a likely pick, in their point of view, was because the area is too small.

  • The actual Raleigh bid includes the entire Triangle metro area which would basically double the size of the metro statistical area to more than 2 million that your study cited for rent impact. Durham rents are slightly less than Raleigh’s so not much difference there. However there are multiple sites  across the Triangle being considered, so that is different than just Raleigh. Were you aware of that fact? And if the MSA is larger could that have an impact on Raleigh-Durham’s chances? 

To match better with our data base, we just looked at the metro areas for the 20 finalist cities. We’re not able to comment on what the impact to rents would be if the area expanded, as that’s not part of the research.

  • If you could review Zillow’s statistics for the Raleigh-Durham metro housing markets (even if briefly) what would you estimate the impact might be?

We aren’t able to comment on this since we haven’t done the research.

  • Are you preparing a study on the impact of HQ2 on housing prices? If so when? Would you project that the impact would be similar?

We are thinking about doing the same study for the impact on housing prices, but don’t have any dates in mind. I will keep you posted on when that will be. … That should help give insight into what may happen to home values in the HQ2 city.

[She pointed The Skinny to two reports which document in great detail how Amazon has transformed its home city of Seattle. You can read them online at this site and at this one.]

Why DC or Atlanta?

Zillow had much more to say about why either Atlanta or DC would be Amazon’s choice. You can read into the experts’ cumulative reasons why the Triangle apparently didn’t score well other than just size, such as mass transit and size of workforce.

“Here are a few of the reasons why experts selected Atlanta and Northern Virginia,” the spokesperson explained.
  • Atlanta
Land to meet growing needs
Location, business friendly tax, enough young talent
Eastern time zone more aligned with Europe, labor availability, labor affordability
  • North Virginia

[Founder, owner] Jeff Bezos has a house in D.C.
Close to D.C., educated workforce, good distance from Seattle
Proximity to airport
Rapid transit

Timeline? Apple?

Zillow is based in Seattle, but that doesn’t mean the company can offer any inside info about what Bezos and company have in mind.

“We have no insight as to when Amazon will announce the city,” she explained,

As for the other big tech project expected to be announced – Apple – Zillow hasn’t researched that project, the spokesperson said.

We’ll be watching.