20 major metro areas are waiting for the Amazon HQ2 announcement with baited breath. Amazon told NBC News in mid-May that it had completed its tour of the “short list” of contenders for its second headquarters, dubbed HQ2. Based on this information (and little else, since Amazon required all 20 cities to sign nondisclosure agreements that prevented them from discussing any part of the process), analysts believe the announcement could come this fall. As speculation runs rampant, ATTOM Data Solutions, a multi-sourced national property data warehouse, took a hard look at the facts surrounding one of the most important facets of Amazon’s decision: the local real estate market.

The analysts considered seven factors in their overall housing scores for each candidate market:

  1. Home prices
  2. Appreciation
  3. Affordability
  4. School scores
  5. Crime rates
  6. Property taxes
  7. Environmental hazards

The following were ranked as the top 5:

1. Raleigh, North Carolina

Raleigh placed first in the rankings thanks to affordable median home prices around $235,000, a price-to-income ratio (affordability measure) of 3.69, and low property taxes. However, it had the fifth-lowest five-year price appreciation rate at 26 percent.

2. Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta placed second, with a median home price of $220,000, 69 percent five-year appreciation, and similar affordability to Raleigh. However, the Atlanta area’s crime rate was roughly three times higher than the first-place market.

3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh ranked third with the fourth-lowest median home price of $150,000

4. Nashville, Tennessee

5. Austin, Texas

ATTOM Data is not the only group out there working hard to predict what Amazon will do. Wells Fargo created an AI program to work on the problem, resulting in the prediction of a “win” for Boston, Massachusetts (19th on ATTOM’s list). Political analysts in Georgia are busy trying to determine how much a federal investigation into bribery allegations at the Atlanta City Hall and the subpoena of a former mayor will hurt the city’s chances. Business Insider has come out strongly in favor of the likelihood of a Washington D.C.-area winner, which many experts say makes sense since Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos already has a home in Washington and his company has increased lobbying spending by more than 400 percent in the last five years.

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