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.

Why U.S. Oil Exports Are Surging

HOUSTON (OilPrice.Com By Tsvetana Paraskova) -March 19, 2018 –

U.S. crude oil exports are surging and going to a growing number of buyers around the world, including to the fastest-growing demand centers in Asia, the traditional stronghold of the Middle Eastern oil exporters.

Booming U.S. production, expanding pipeline and export capacity, and the more than $3-a-barrel discount of WTI spot prices to Brent supported the surge in U.S. oil exports last year.

This year, it looks like these three key drivers of American exports—higher production, higher capacity, and higher WTI-Brent discount—are here to stay, leading to a continued increase in overseas shipments, much to the frustration of OPEC exporters whose market share of the prized Asian market is starting to erode.

In 2017, the second full year since the restrictions on U.S. crude oil exports were removed in late 2015, American oil exports almost doubled compared to 2016, averaging 1.1 million bpd, the EIA said this week.

The U.S. shipped its oil to 37 countries last year, up from 27 in 2016. Canada was still the biggest export market for U.S. oil, but its total share dropped to 29 percent last year from 61 percent in 2016. The most notable increase in U.S. exports was recorded in none other than China, where Russia and Saudi Arabia have been competing for years for the top spot, with Russia having gained the upper hand in the past two years.

U.S. crude oil exports to China accounted for 202,000 bpd—or 20 percent—of the 527,000-bpd total increase in American exports in 2017, EIA data showed. China surpassed the United Kingdom and the Netherlands to become the second-largest destination for U.S. crude oil exports last year, just behind Canada.

Another large Asian crude oil importer, India, which had not received any U.S. oil in 2016, bought 22,000 bpd in 2017 to tie with Spain as the tenth-largest destination of American crude sales.

It’s not only the high U.S. production that drove the increased exports: the WTI-Brent spread was a major incentive last year. Spot Brent prices averaged $3.36 a barrel more than WTI prices in 2017, compared with just $0.40 a barrel more in 2016, “providing a price incentive to export U.S. crude oil into the international market,” the EIA said.

According to the EIA, this year similar production, infrastructure, and WTI-Brent price conditions will be necessary to keep U.S. exports trending upwards. And it looks like all these conditions are likely to be fulfilled in 2018.

Total U.S. crude oil production will average 10.7 million bpd in 2018, up from the average 9.3 million bpd in 2017, and WTI prices will average $4 a barrel lower than Brent prices in both 2018 and 2019, the EIA said in its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook—a favorable spread for U.S. exports.

So far this year, total U.S. oil production has already surpassed that of OPEC’s leading producer Saudi Arabia, and the United States is on track to topple Russia to become the world’s largest crude oil producer as early as later this year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says.

In export capacity, the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) recently shipped out U.S. oil on the largest sized supertanker there is after the port expanded to accommodate the bigger vessels. These supertankers, capable of carrying 2 million barrels of oil, could reduce shipping costs, thus making U.S. exports even more attractive, especially on long-haul routes to the oil-hungry markets in Asia.

Rising U.S. exports to Asia are eating into OPEC producers’ market share and threatening to unravel the OPEC/non-OPEC production cut deal, Warren Patterson, a commodities strategist at Dutch bank ING Groep NV, told Bloomberg recently.

“They continue to give market share away to the U.S.,” Patterson said, referring to OPEC’s producers.

U.S. exports will continue to rise in the medium term, and by 2022, the United States will be the fourth biggest oil exporter in the world behind Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Iraq, energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie said at the end of January. The U.S. will export 4 million bpd of light sweet crude of API gravity of between 38 and 45 by 2022, WoodMac has estimated.

The U.S. will continue to import heavy oil, but its light crude will find a market, thanks to global demand growth estimated at 5 million bpd over the next few years.

“OPEC producers and others will compete for market share; but as the marginal supplier, we expect tight oil to capture the lion’s share of incremental growth,” WoodMac reckons.

Then, rising shale production is expected to have a lasting effect on crude price differentials. The Brent premium over WTI has averaged under $3 per barrel over the last three years, but WoodMac expects it to be around $6 per barrel in the coming years.

So far, higher U.S. production and export capacity and the Brent premium over WTI are shaping up favorably for American exports that are already upending global oil markets. How far the disruption will go and how fast the U.S. could become a top five global oil exporter will depend on oil prices and spreads, the pace of U.S. production growth, and a possible response from OPEC if it soon decides it is time it started to defend its market share.


Forecast: Houston Office Market To Firm Up This Year

HOUSTON (Houston Chronicle )- March 9, 2018 – Houston’s high-end office market will turn up this year after ending 2017 in the red, a new report shows. Class A office absorption — a common measure of a market’s health representing the change in occupied space — will be up by as much as 950,000 square feet in 2018, CBRE said. For 2018’s forecast, CBRE replicated the previous year’s method, adding in modifiers for the market’s increased momentum. Last year CBRE predicted 150K SF of absorption loss, and actual absorption registered as a roughly 214K SF loss.  Class-A space in Houston has been kept afloat by a flight to quality, driving increased demand to offset losses. Class-B and C assets have been on the other end. Given the negative absorption in Class-B and C over the past two years, which have combined for 3M SF of losses, CBRE’s Robert Kramp and Brad Smith predict further absorption loss in both asset classes. CBRE predicts an additional 750K SF to 1M SF of Class-B and C will be vacated.  Combining the predictions for Class-A, B and C, CBRE’s simplified analysis shows that overall office demand will range from a possible 350K SF loss to a 200K SF gain.

Largest Solar Plant Being Built in Texas

​​​​PECOS COUNTY (San Antonio Express-News) – January 23, 2018- California based 174 Power Global Corp. has broken ground on the $260 million Midway Solar plant after two years of development.  The 182-megawatt solar facility will be the largest of its kind. The new project could power more than 36,​000 Texas homes during peak use in the summer.
The company has a 25-year contract to sell the energy generated by the Midway Solar plant to Austin’s city-owned utility Austin Energy.​

Houston’s Latest Construction Projects

HOUSTON (Bisnow Houston) – January 4th, 2018 – From skyscrapers to water parks and everything in between, development is alive and well across Houston. Here are the latest projects under construction Houstonians are most excited about.

Capitol Tower

Skanska kicked off its 754K SF Downtown 35 story tower amid millions of square feet of office vacancy in Houston’s central business district with new tenant Bank of America that is leaving its namesake current Location after 35 years. Skanska expects to deliver the tower in Q2 2019.

Caydon Midtown

Australia-based developer Caydon Property Group is building Midtown’s first high-rise in decades. The Midtown will eventually rise 29 stories over Houston’s hottest millennial neighborhood, offering 342K SF of residential space across 357 apartment units. Prospective residents can expect to move in in early 2019.

Texas Medical Center McNair Campus

The future of the Texas Medical Center is tied to The Baylor College of Medicine and CHI St. Luke’s Health’s $1.1B McNair campus. While JE Dunn is building out the interior of Tower 1, Tellepsen Hunt, a joint venture between Tellepsen and Hunt Construction Group, has started construction on the second tower. Once completed, the McNair campus will occupy 1.2M SF with 650 hospital beds across two towers. Completion of the entire McNair campus is slated for 2019.

Latitude Med Center

The Texas Medical Center’s latest tower has officially topped out. Once complete late this year, the 22-story InterContinental Houston Medical Center will feature 353 guest rooms with 8K SF of meeting space alongside Greystar’s apartment development named Latitude Med Center. The project is the first full-service luxury hotel in the Texas Medical Center in decades.

Valley Ranch

On the doorstep of the 1,400-acre master planned community Valley Ranch sits Valley Ranch Town Center, a sprawling 240-acre mixed-use project with over 1M SF of retail and entertainment space. Stores are opening and leases are rolling in. Academy Sports was the inaugural store, but soon major tenants like Kroger, Hobby Lobby and Sam’s Club followed. The project’s developer, The Signorelli Co., expects roughly 85 stores and six multifamily communities when all phases of construction are complete.

Big Rivers Water Park

Big Rivers Waterpark and Gator Bayou Adventure Park is officially underway along I-69 north of New Caney. It will open in Grand Texas by summer, a little over six months after breaking ground. The park will sit on roughly 80 acres offering both a water park and adventure area with attractions for all ages. The move is spurring development around the park, with a Best Western Premier hotel set to deliver alongside the park’s opening. A 24-hour urgent care and a casual dining restaurant are also in the works close by.

BLVD Place Expansion

Phase 2 of BLVD Place’s construction is underway. The asset’s new owner, Whitestone REIT, will be adding a six-story, 137K SF building with 46K SF of retail below 91K SF of office space. The Hanover Co. also broke ground on its latest Houston asset last year there. The 32-story, 281-unit tower will sit just south of Hanover Post Oak as part of the BLVD Place mixed-use development.

Museum of Fine Aarts Expansion

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston’s $450M expansion broke ground last year. The 165K SF Nancy and Rich Kinder building will house 54K SF of gallery space, a 200-seat theater, a restaurant with views of the museum’s sculpture garden and an underground parking garage. The project is set to deliver in late 2019.

Houston Independent School District’s new arts-oriented high school is on track for a late 2018 completion. The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts is preparing for its move from Montrose to Downtown, which will increase the school’s capacity to a total of 750 students.

HISD Performing and Visual Arts High School

Houston Independent School District’s new arts-oriented high school is on track for a late 2018 completion. The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts is preparing for its move from Montrose to Downtown, which will increase the school’s capacity to a total of 750 students.

Buffalo Heights

H-E-B has been busy in Houston. In the Washington Corridor, H-E-B has teamed up with Midway Cos. for a mixed-use development at Heights and Washington. The 96K SF grocery store with a walk-up coffee bar and café concept will not open until spring 2019. The store is another sign of H-E-B’s increasing commitment to community-oriented stores within Houston’s inner loop.

The Post Oak

Houston Rockets’ owner Tilman Fertitta is behind The Post Oak, the Galleria area’s latest ultra luxe development. The 38-floor, 680K SF mixed-use development will feature 150K SF of Class-A office space, a 250-room hotel tower, 20 luxury residential units, a two-story Rolls-Royce showroom, a spa, a salon and several high-end restaurants. Mastro’s Steakhouse, a 10K SF establishment constructed by O’Donnell/Snider Construction and Abel Design Group, is already open on the site. The rest of The Post Oak is expected to open later this year.


Just east of 610 in Uptown, Arabella, a 33-story, 100-unit condo tower, is going up on the site of the former Westcreek apartment complex. The luxurious condo tower is borrowing from Miami’s playbook by offering 10 terrace-top pools with some of the best views in the city. These pools are costing between $150K and $175K apiece, but have helped sell units. Ten out of the 14 penthouse condos within Arabella have been sold.

East Village

EaDo’s rapid conversion from a post-industrial neighborhood to a thriving arts and entertainment district is continuing at Ancorian’s latest redevelopment project, East Village. The project is already home to  Our/Houston vodka distillery, Chapman & Kirby, a hybrid nightclub and restaurant, and SeaSide Poke. Soon, Truck Yard and Rodeo Goat will join the mix. Agricole Hospitality is working on opening three separate concepts in more than 10K SF of converted warehouse space. Phases 2 and 3 of the project are set to deliver this summer.


Houston Industrial Sales & Leasing Strong

​​​​​​​​​​​​HOUSTON (Realty News Report) –​​ December 1st, 2017 – Industrial sales are up 127 percent since last year, according to a November report by NAI Partners.

So far this year, $984 million in industrial sales have been recorded. ​Institutional investors have accounted for 38 percent of the deals. Twelve percent of the buyers were REITs, and 10 percent were foreign investors.

NAI reports the​ largest transaction of the year was Pure Industrial REIT’s $63.5 million purchase of the one million-sf IKEA Distribution Center in Baytown.

Around 6.4 million sf has been absorbed year-to-date, and the current vacancy rate is 5.5 percent.

Texas Unemployment At Record Low

TEXAS (Dallas Federal Reserve) November 29, 2017 –  The Texas Economic Indicators report for October 2017 from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas saw Texas unemployment falling to a record low of 3.9%. The metric is at its lowest point in the series’ history, which dates back to 1976.

The low unemployment figure, combined with other fundamentals such as annual job growth (currently at 2.7%) and broad-based payroll expansion, led the Texas Business-Cycle Index to increase by an annualized 5.8% in October. The long-run average of the index is 3.9%.

The three-month moving averages of the Dallas Fed’s Texas Business Outlook Surveys reported accelerating growth in factory production, service-sector revenue and retail sales. The three-month moving average of the manufacturing production index rose to its highest level in more than 10 years.

How Much SQFT Does $5k p/mo Get One in Class A Office Across the USA

AUSTIN (Austin Business Journal) – October 31, 2017 – Office rents in Austin have topped Seattle and the Silicon Valley, according to CommercialCafe’s latest report.

A tenant spending $5,000 per month for Class A office space can get 1,087 sf in the Capital City. That trails only Boston, where you could afford 1,006 sf; Washington, D.C. (849 sf); San Francisco ​(803 sf); and New York City (703 sf).

In Houston, $5,000 could get you 1,337 sf, and in Dallas 2,012 sf. For that same amount, you can rent 2,226 sf in San Antonio.

Office vacancies were at 10.5 percent across the Austin metro in the third quarter, according to Cushman & Wakefield. The asking rate for Class A space is at an all-time high of $55.77 per sf.

Texas Adds 12,000+ Apartments In 3rd Qtr

CARROLLTON (ALN Apartment Data)  – October 20, 2017 – ​Texas apartment markets a​dded more than 12,000 units over the 3rd quarter, according to the latest report from ALN Apartment Data​​​​.

“Even with all the new units added, the only Texas markets to have noteworthy negative occupancy growth were College Station and Lubbock,” the report said.

“Competition in Austin is heating up and average rents fell 0.7 percent to $1,210 per unit. Laredo and Texarkana saw modest decreases of a few dollars per unit over the summer.

“Hurricane Harvey took its toll and damaged almost 15,000 units, but that managed to push average occupancy up 1.8 percent to 89.1 percent as the displaced tenants were absorbed elsewhere in the market. Rents in Houston also spiked up more than 2.4 percent to an average of $1,​042 per unit.”