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Boom Times Coming?

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According to some players in the industry, yes.


Question is, how long will it take for debts to be paid off, etc., before things really ramp up? I'm guessing the first effects will be in retail and high-end residential sectors as current execs get more money in their pockets, while significant employment growth (and effects on office sector) don't start until next year.


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Maybe not a "boom" just yet, but office leasing in Houston is turning things around. Here is Costar's summary of the office market:

Office leasing volume in Houston rose significantly during 22Q1, eclipsing the 4 million SF mark, something not seen since 19Q4. Helping bolster leasing volume was the 293,000-SF lease signed by Enbridge during 22Q1. The midstream pipeline company signed a 14-year sublease at Energy Center V and will be moving from the Galleria/Uptown area to the Energy Corridor later this year.

Leasing demand from the oil and gas industry has slowly picked back up over the past couple of quarters. During 22Q1, Linde PLC committed to nearly 41,000 SF at the Sierra Pines Business business park in The Woodlands. Also in 22Q1, Cox Oil signed a 24,000 SF lease at the recently renovated Lyondell Basell Tower in the CBD.

Houston's office market experienced 630,000 SF of net absorption over the past 12 months as of 2022q2, and annual net absorption has been positive for the past three consecutive quarters. Furthermore, CoStar is anticipating 3.4 million SF of positive net absorption during 2022 — the highest level since 2015. This relatively bullish assessment draws on the rebounding economy at both the national and regional levels.

While encouraging, the market is still facing significant headwinds. The vacancy rate has shifted by 0.8% to 19.0% over the past year, which compares to the five-year average of 16.8%. This ranks Houston among the highest out of all U.S. metros in terms of vacancy rate. Compared to nationally, office vacancies stood at 12.3%.  

Another headwind is the amount of sublet space available in Houston, which is currently at approximately 8.1 million SF —  about 2.3% of the metro's total inventory. This is up from about 5.1 million SF at the start of 2020. However, it remains below the figure of 11.2 million SF, recorded during the oil bust during 16Q4. The CBD alone accounts for more than one-third of all of Houston's available sublease space.

Houston benefits from business-friendly regulations, its relative affordability, strong talent pool, and the presence of George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and despite the aforementioned headwinds, the metro has landed some major corporate tenants since the start of the pandemic. For example, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), a Fortune 500 technology company, relocated its global headquarters to the Houston region from San Jose, California. The headquarters is located at the company's new 440,000-SF state-of-the-art Springwoods Village campus, which opened in early 2022.

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Federal Reserve Bank reports 2022 job growth in Texas metros:

  • Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land:  +3.7%  Added 117,400 jobs
  • Dallas-Plano-Irving:  +3.4%  Added 95,500 jobs
  • Fort Worth-Arlington:  +3.4% Added 37,900 jobs
  • Austin-Round Rock:  + 4.2%  Added 50,800 jobs
  • San Antonio-New Braunfels:  +2.9%  Added 31,300 jobs
Edited by Houston19514
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