Trade War Greatest Challenge for Texas Economy

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – August 7, 2018 – Texas’ economic expansion continued amid increased activity in the goods-producing industries, but rising input costs, resulting from domestic tariffs, could deflate the rate of growth.

According to the Real Estate Center’s latest Outlook for the Texas Economy report, employment growth moderated to more sustainable levels after explosive growth to start the year. The improved workforce environment pushed the labor force participation rate to a three-year high. Average earnings remained stagnant but extended to a broader base of workers. Upward inflationary pressure, however, weighed on Texans’ purchasing power.

Shortages of entry-level homes lifted shelter costs and hindered housing sales despite strong demand. A declining trade environment remains the greatest headwind to the Texas economy, challenging some of the state’s most productive industries.

Texas is a Job Creator

COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) – July 27, 2018 – The Texas economy gained 359,500 nonagricultural jobs from June 2017 to June 2018, an annual growth rate of 2.9 percent, higher than the nation’s employment growth rate of 1.6 percent.

According to the Real Estate Center’s latest Monthly Review of the Texas Economy, the nongovernment sector added 351,700 jobs, an annual growth rate of 3.4 percent, also higher than the nation’s employment growth rate of 1.9 percent in the private sector.

Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in June 2018 was 4 percent, lower than the 4.2 percent rate in June 2017. The nation’s rate decreased from 4.4 to 4 percent.

All Texas industries except the information industry had more jobs. The mining and logging industry ranked first in job creation followed by construction; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; transportation, warehousing, and utilities; manufacturing; education and health services; and financial activities.

All Texas metro areas except Longview, Beaumont-Port Arthur, Corpus Christi, and Victoria had more jobs. Midland ranked first in job creation followed by College-Station-Bryan, Odessa, Dallas-Plano-Irving, Austin-Round Rock, and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land.

The state’s actual unemployment rate last month was 4.2 percent. Midland had the lowest unemployment rate followed by Amarillo, Austin-Round Rock, Odessa, and College Station-Bryan.


Houston Industrial Soars In 2nd Quarter

HOUSTON (NAI Partners) – July 24, 2018 – Local industrial development reached levels not seen in more than two years, said NAI Partners in its second quarter 2018 industrial market report. The development pipeline logged 12.4 million sf, compared with the all-time recorded high of 15 million sf reached in 2Q2015.

New construction delivered during the second quarter stood at 1.8 million sf, close to the average amount of space completed over the last four quarters (1.9 million sf).

Triple net average asking rents increased by 3.6 percent quarter over quarter to $6.97 per sf and by 2 percent year over year from $6.83.

The overall industrial vacancy rate grew to 5.4 percent in the second quarter, an increase of 20 basis points quarter over quarter and unchanged year over year.

In May, 3.1 million workers were on payrolls throughout the region, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. For the 12 months ending May 2018, Houston created 79,200 jobs, a 2.6 percent increase.

Despite Office Vacancy H-Town Leading Nation in Rent Growth

HOUSTON (BISNOW-Catie Dixon) -June 18, 2018 – Houston office rents have skyrocketed over the last dozen years, at a clip much faster than any other U.S. city despite the struggles of the past few years. With 43.4% rent growth since 2006, Houston is well above even the second-place market, Dallas, with a 32.2% rent increase, and miles ahead of New York City (23.1%) and D.C. (9.1%), NAI Partners’ analysis of CoStar data shows.

Yet Houston has a lot of room to run in rents. Office users here are paying $27.73/SF, less than half the $61.15 average rent New York tenants are dropping. The big increases since 2006 have pushed Houston past Dallas, which has a $25.18/SF average rate. “Despite the perception in the marketplace that the Houston office market is struggling, this data tells a different story, especially compared to Houston’s national cohort,” NAI Partners partner Dan Boyles said. “While the office market is naturally cyclical, the low points for Houston aren’t as pronounced as they have been in past down markets.”

Why Houston Attracting Jobs and People Faster Than Rest of Country

HOUSTON (BISNOW-DESS STRIBLING) -June 7, 2018 – The impact Amazon might have had on Houston is overstated, the speakers at Bisnow’s Houston State of the Market event said pointing out that companies operating in the Port of Houston are going to spend about $50B over the next five years on new facilities and new technology. That is 10 times the economic impact of Amazon.

One mark of Houston’s expanding economic base is what happened when oil prices tanked a few years ago. The short answer: no recession for Houston, though some parts of the local economy suffered.Did Houston ever stand a chance to be on Amazon’s shortlist? The consensus among the speakers: No. Houston does not have the technical workforce Amazon wanted, for one thing. The city also has a great lifestyle, but not the lifestyle that Amazon wanted — which includes major mass transit and a lot of walkability.

Houston has many strengths as an economy and a real estate market, but those aren’t among them. One challenge for Houston is to convince the country that it can fix its flooding problems — and then actually do it — but other than that, Houston is perceived as a growth city. It is the fourth-largest metro in the country, and on track to surpass Chicago to be No. 3 in the near future. Lionstone Investments Head of Acquisitions Andrew Lusk, whose company focuses on walkable mixed-use locations, said Houston is in favor with the investment community. “In the last 18 months, there have been several marquee transactions here,” he said.

Houston’s being taken seriously as a place to invest. The remarkable thing about the Houston office market, Lusk said, is that the energy downturn didn’t crush it like the 1980s downturn did. Office fundamentals are tough, because there is lot of new supply but not as much demand, and rents have been dropping. But the market isn’t on its knees. Johnson Development founder Larry Johnson, whose company has 17 master-planned developments underway in various markets, representing 74,000 single-family units and 6M SF of commercial space, said that 27,000 homes were developed in Houston last year. The region is No. 2 in the nation by that metric, only surpassed by Dallas, and this year the total may be 31,000 new homes. “There’s tremendous demand for homes and for lots,” Johnson said. “Land prices are rising, but overall Houston has a healthy residential market.”

The Houston economy needs to diversify more, and it is doing so, though the mainstays remain the port, medicine and energy, the speakers said. In the decades ahead, growth will be driven by diversification, including tech. What is at the heart of growth here? The same factors as always, magnified by the current U.S. economic environment. Houston is pro-business and the world knows it. Taxes and the cost of living are low, and there is no zoning. None of those are new factors when it comes to spurring Houston’s growth, the speakers said. But now, especially with the change in federal tax law, there is further impetus for people and businesses to relocate from places like New York and California. All of Texas is going to benefit from this dynamic, and arguably Houston most of all. Avison Young principal Darrell Betts, who specializes in high-profile investment sales, said there is a massive influx of companies from New York and California. “The change in the tax law is bringing people,” he said. “We’re the No. 1 U-Haul destination in the country.” JLL Senior Vice President Simmi Jaggi, who specializes in land sales, especially for retail, said Houston isn’t just on the national stage. The city is being eyed by foreign capital more than at any time in history.

Unlike many markets, urban occupancies for retail remains high, and there is strong growth in development and leasing in the suburbs as well. Food and beverage is on fire especially, Jaggi said. There are challenges for retail, however: land prices have increased, and retail developers are finding it hard to compete against multifamily developers.  Betts also pointed out things Houston can do better. Traffic is a struggle. There is no sustainable mass transit from the airport to any major business district, which is a significant missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to economic development. Still, in the long run, Uber and other shared transportation services are going to be a major factor in getting around, lessening the need for individual cars, which might help Houston deal with its congestion problem.

Houston Added 47 Million sqft of Industrial-’14 to ’17

Houston Retail 1st Quarter Results-2018

HOUSTON (Colliers International) – May 8, 2018 – Many retail landlords have made the shift to a strong preference for experience-based retail concepts which cannot be supplanted by an online, e-commerce alternative. As multi-channel retailing continues to mature, the share of e-commerce retail spending in the U.S. grew approximately 17 percent in the past year. Like every other market experiencing these trends, Houston has maintained healthy occupancy and rent growth and it remains a competitive environment for desirable centers.


The Port of Houston is Booming!

HOUSTON (BISNOW)- May 3, 2018 – The port increased inbound containers by 21.6% last year, the largest leap in the country, Colliers reports in its 2018 Industrial Seaport Outlook. Houston has been an export powerhouse, and 2017 was the first time in more than a decade that imports exceeded exports.

The shift is coming at a good time — Colliers principal Gary Mabray said potential tariffs on outbound petrochemical products could cause billions of dollars of impact, whereas tariffs on inbound steel products likely will only have a minimal impact on volume. “Import volumes are growing at the Port of Houston because of the port’s excellent logistics capabilities, as well as the need for retailers to keep higher inventories in warehouses to service Texas and the rest of the southern U.S. growing population,” Colliers National Director of Industrial Research James Breeze said.

The Port of Houston’s activity is driving industrial demand in Houston, particularly in the far east submarket. Houston was seventh in the nation for deliveries last year, with 8.5M SF completed, according to Colliers. Activity is accelerating in the east submarket, nearest the port, Mabray said. Pontikes is building 3M SF near the Ship Channel. Avera Cos. is building 1.2M SF in Baytown and Pasadena. Liberty Property Trust is underway on 700K SF at Port Crossing Commerce Center. Much of the activity is targeting distribution, as Houston’s e-commerce logistics market is starting to pick up steam. Amazon, UPS, Best Buy and FedEx set up regional distribution hubs tied to online sales recently, and IKEA just purchased 160 acres in Generation Park to build at least 1.2M SF of distribution space. Booming demand in both Texas markets likely won’t slow any time soon. “We expect this growth to continue as the population continues to grow and economic fundamentals continue to improve,” Breeze said.

Dallas-Fort Worth also added to the surge where many of the imports are funneled via truck or rail. (For example, Randalls relocated its distribution footprint from Houston to Dallas.) Dallas led the U.S. in 2017 for net absorption, with Colliers recording 23.3M SF leased up and 27.6M SF delivered. The Metroplex is on a high of 30 straight quarters of positive net absorption.


Texas’ Job-Growth Rate Up 2.4% in March

​COLLEGE STATION (Real Estate Center) –  April 25, 2018 – The Texas economy continues to outpace the U.S. economy in job creation. The state gained 294,100 nonagricultural jobs from March 2017 to March 2018, an annual growth rate of 2.4 percent, higher than the nation’s employment growth rate of 1.5 percent.

According to the Real Estate Center’s latest Monthly Review of the Texas Economy, the nongovernment sector added 289,100 jobs, an annual growth rate of 2.8 percent, also higher than the nation’s employment growth rate of 1.8 percent in the private sector.

Texas’ seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in March 2018 was 4 percent, lower than the 4.6 percent rate in March 2017. The nation’s rate decreased from 4.5 to 4.1 percent.

​All Texas industries except the information industry had more jobs. The mining and logging industry ranked first in job creation followed by construction; transportation, warehousing, and utilities; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; and financial activities.

All Texas metro areas except Beaumont-Port Arthur, Brownsville-Harlingen, Corpus Christi, and Victoria had more jobs. Midland ranked first in job creation followed by Odessa, College Station-Bryan, Austin-Round Rock, Dallas-Plano-Irving, Fort Worth-Arlington, and Abilene.

The state’s actual unemployment rate was 4.1 percent. Midland had the lowest unemployment rate followed by Amarillo, College Station-Bryan, Austin-Round Rock, and Odessa.

Houston’s Industrial Market

HOUSTON  (BISNOW) – March 29, 2018 – I attended this BISNOW event. Thanks to population growth, petrochemicals and e-commerce, Houston’s industrial market is dominating — at least locally. The latest industrial report shows the average industrial rent rate across all product types is $6.15/SF, according to JLL research. “However, that is a simplification of real rates. If you look at rates on either Loopnet or CoStar trying to find $0.50 rents in class B or even C product in Harris county is near impossible. If it is New Dock High your looking at $0.80+ p/ft or more in most areas in Harris County. As you go further out into the subburbs rents are lower.” ((Sky))

“I wouldn’t say Houston is dominant in industrial across the country, but we’re the dominant property type locally,” Molto Properties Vice President Chad Parrish said at Bisnow’s Houston’s Industrial Dominance event March 29. “Dallas is very active, maybe too active. Los Angeles is a behemoth. The thing Houston’s hasn’t seen is rent growth.” “We’ve never been a huge rent growth market because of our available land,” Duke Realty Senior Vice President David Hudson said. “I think we’ll get some rent growth back here in a couple years.”

The latest industrial report shows the average industrial rent rate across all product types is $6.15/SF, according to JLL research. That represents a roughly 2% decrease in direct asking rates over the previous year. Houston’s rental rates have not fluctuated much since 2013, floating in the $6/SF range. Recently, increasing demand has modestly pushed rents.   “Rent growth is considerably higher on the quarter,” DCT Industrial Vice President Michael Flowers said, pointing to Houston’s population growth and petrochemical industry.  Though the area has experienced continuous population growth that will soon push it past the Chicagoland area, Greater Houston is spread out over roughly 10,000 square miles and growing. High barriers to entry help to push rents, but available land and willing economic development councils across the area are keeping the barriers low and tenants can pick up and move further down Interstate 10 rather than pay up.

“There’s a lot of big-box activity going on, but you drive out I-10 and see all the big boxes getting further and further away from the city,” The Richland Cos. CEO Edna Meyer-Nelson said. Major operations like Daikin, Igloo and Rooms To Go are now occupying hundreds of acres and millions of square feet in far west Houston at a fraction of the cost of what that same space would cost in Harris County.  Flowers is not totally sold on the idea of Houston’s rent growth attracting national attention. “For institutional investors, the mindset is you have your stocks on the coasts and your bonds in the middle,” Flowers said.

For an industrial market dealing with a major oil downturn, being considered as steady as bonds is a compliment. The overall vacancy rate for Houston industrial space has remained at or below 5.5% for 24 consecutive quarters, beginning with Q1 2012, well before the downturn began. Two submarkets are showing signs of rent growth; the southeast and northwest continue to be the submarket darlings of the industrial sector. The lack of quality land sites available in these core submarkets constrains speculative development. Spaces around the Port of Houston, particularly those that are rail-served, have been hot. According to CBRE, 70% of the 8.5M SF of industrial development in Houston is in the southeast and northwest submarkets.