What is the Great Tech Migration — and what does it mean for luxury real estate?

What is the Great Tech Migration — and what does it mean for luxury real estate?

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The technology sector is enormous—it’s expected that $5.3 trillion will be spent on Information Technology (IT) worldwide in 2022. And when it experiences a shift, every industry feels the impact. That’s especially true in luxury real estate, where fortunes are made and staked on future-forward innovations. Each year, newly minted founders and veteran venture capitalists purchase properties in emerging technology hotspots, building and growing some of the world’s most influential businesses.

There have been a number of notable tech migrations over the last few decades, but I have never experienced a “Great Tech Migration” comparable to the one happening now in my local Atlanta market.

What’s different about this migration? The ubiquity of remote work. Today’s tech workers are free to live in more affordable locations—and technology companies, competing with each other to win the war for talent, are starting to follow them.

The causes and effects of a Great Tech Migration

Chase Mizell – Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty

In the past, Great Tech Migrations have attracted professionals to urban centers such as San Francisco and its outlying Silicon Valley hubs, as well as other major metropolises like New York and Chicago. Today’s migration is unique because the best tech talent in the business is moving out of these cost-prohibitive economies.

Here are three defining characteristics that distinguish what’s happening in the present from what happened in the past.

1. A move away from conventional tech hubs

The Great Tech Migration we’re seeing now has been launched by a compelling technology boom in smaller cities and rural areas. Millennials are gravitating towards these secondary markets, not only because they offer a more affordable cost of living, but because they also tend to have better year-round weather and a tighter-knit approach to community.

Here in the U.S., a number of southern cities—such as Austin, Raleigh, Tampa, and Atlanta—have recently exploded with new tech businesses. These young entrepreneurs bring their big ideas with them, so it’s no surprise that these smaller cities have become centers of startup activity.

2. A dispersion of well-known tech companies

It’s not just new businesses that are opening offices. In Atlanta, glitzy new office buildings and technology campuses now host the likes of companies including Microsoft, Salesforce, Google, and Mailchimp. Large enterprises are part of the Great Tech Migration, pursuing the savviest minds as they leave the largest cities.

3. Concentrated and highly localized activity

As these relocations take place, their effects become transformative within smaller micro-markets. For example, most of the technology companies coming to Atlanta are congregating in Midtown, in close proximity to Georgia Tech—no surprise, as these organizations benefit from the area’s abundance of recent or soon-to-be graduates.

Formerly overlooked markets are making major gains

Chase Mizell and Debra Dent – Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty

The cities that appear to benefit the most from the current tech migration are those that offer more than just affordable housing—they also offer a comfortable climate and a luxury lifestyle. Some of the zip codes seeing the greatest gains are located in Dallas, Miami, and Southern California, along with Atlanta, Austin, Raleigh, and Tampa.

However, less traditional technology hubs are attracting top talent in surprisingly high numbers, such as Madison, Wisconsin and Richmond, Virginia. They’re among several previously less-popular markets now climbing to the top of the list.

The cities that appear to benefit the most from the current tech migration are those that offer more than just affordable housing—they also offer a comfortable climate and a luxury lifestyle.

If you’re a luxury agent working in a market currently welcoming today’s Great Tech Migration, there are three steps you can take to ensure you’re providing top-of-the-line service to new prospects:

Do a deep dive on what makes your area unique for incoming tech companies. If you find yourself in a region impacted by tech migration, investigate the why: are businesses receiving tax breaks? Are employees drawn to the local music scene or food culture? Knowing what’s driving interest can set you up to sell well.

  • Have a strong grasp of co-working facilities and other amenities. Show clients that you know the best places to work, live, shop, and relax—and how to navigate without needing a car.
  • Keep tabs on local tech companies and if they’re actively recruiting. I find it helpful to track Atlanta’s tech ecosystem on platforms like LinkedIn to know when they’re recruiting and onboarding.
  • In an era of digital and distributed workforces, the map of the world’s technology companies is being rapidly redrawn—and the employees are the ones redrawing it. As affluent and ambitious technology professionals come to cities that were once outliers, it provides an opportunity for luxury agents to show off the best their markets have to offer.

Chase Mizell

Chase Mizell is an award-winning real estate agent with Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty, and in 2020, he became the #1 agent in the state of Georgia for volume sold.

Chase has been selling real estate in the Atlanta market since 2006. Before obtaining his real estate license, Chase attended Georgia State University where he graduated cum laude with a B.A. in journalism with a concentration in public relations and a minor in marketing.

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