Homes Sizzle While Offices Fizzle

Homes Sizzle While Offices Fizzle

The Houston housing market is breaking records, but business tenants are hard to find. Houston homebuyers increasingly are putting the oil slump behind them, snapping up houses in record numbers and paying more for them than ever. But economic trauma in the region’s signature energy industry continues to haunt real estate’s office market, pushing the local vacancy rate higher than it’s been in decades.

         The residential segment’s hot streak accelerated in June, with gains from the luxury to the lower end. Monthly home sales figures released Wednesday show buyers closed on 8,414 single-family homes, an 8.3 percent increase over the same month last year and the largest one month sales volume in history, besting a record set a month earlier.

         The positive data from the Houston Association of Realtors show housing benefitting from pent-up demand even as the Houston economy continues to grapple with further fluctuations in oil prices.

By Nancy Sarnoff and Dylan Baddour (Houston Chronicle July 13th)

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HOUSTON’S OFFICE MARKET has the highest vacancy rate in the country, making it an interesting time to debut a brand-new skyscraper downtown. But 609 Main at Texas, the newest in a string of towers by local developer Hines, opened last week with 60 percent of the more-than 1 million-square-feet building spoken for. Tenants include several law firms, as well as United Airlines, which has taken several floors in the building and has private access to a roof deck for its employees. 

The building has cachet not only because of its posh finishes, including ornate granite slabs that resemble paintings, but for something much less sexy — its air conditioning system. 609 Main’s AC is pumped through the floor at a much lower pressure than a typical overhead system, which allows for individual customization, and yes, that means each coworker, including the one who is always wearing a parka inside, can adjust the temperature for themselves.

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