In L.A., hidden armies of workers keep mega-mansions on the market, driving down prices and driving up rents. But when a company sells its real estate to employees on shares or 401(k), the new owners no longer have to live in the building. Now they have more time and flexibility to explore nearby culture, make friends outside their company, and maybe even take a new job.
But, while the employees may have the chance to live onsite instead of spending their days in the office, they no longer have the luxury of living the lifestyle they wanted when they first arrived in the city.
This is the situation Amazon.com, Starbucks, and Whole Foods are facing in New York City, says Jeff Atwood, a real estate analyst with Beacon Hill Research Group. The big three — Amazon, Starbucks, and Whole Foods — have a growing presence in New York City. This is part of a trend that could soon spread to other large U.S. cities, says Atwood.
The idea of selling a company’s real estate to employees is not a new one, says Atwood. In the 1970s, companies often rented space in a building then handed it over to employees on their way out. In the case of a company like Walmart, selling its real estate is known as “reallocating.” And as companies sell real estate, the employees often move into a new home they buy in the same neighborhood, Atwood says.
Still, those companies’ housing markets are shrinking as more workers live and work in the same location. The same can’t be said for Amazon and Starbucks, Atwood says. In some neighborhoods, they have sold most of their real estate, leaving only a few big houses empty in what used to be the center of the city, like Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
In another area, Amazon has sold a few large properties, but it has largely given away the properties to residents and businesses instead of selling them. In Seattle, Amazon has given away hundreds of units in Seattle City Center to help boost affordable housing. But while Amazon’s giving away empty homes, it is