houston's apartment boom

Booming Houston real estate market ranks among 5 best buys for apartment investors

Houston real estate market ranks as top 5 for apartment investors

Houston Vantage Med Center apartments
The Houston apartment market is rising higher.  Photo courtesy of Vantage Med Center

As local developers, renters, and anyone trying to navigate all the new construction knows, Houston is in the midst of an apartment boom. A just-released, national report suggests that boom may not slow anytime soon, as it lists Houston as a top buy for apartment investors — and an area that will see rising rents in the foreseeable future.

Ten-X Commercial, an online platform for commercial real estate transactions, also identified Fort Worth as a city that commercial investors should target in its annual U.S. Apartment Market Outlook. Only three other American cities are considered strong buys for apartment investors: Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Salt Lake City, Utah. The data in the report is generated from the more than $20 billion worth of transactions handled by Ten-X Commercial.

In analyzing the two Texas cities, Ten-X Commercial finds that both offer strong net operating income benefits (a key driver in commercial real estate) to investors for years to come. Houston’s apartment rents are buoyed by a “resurgent energy sector” that is “turbocharging the local economy” and jumped 6.1 percent year-over-year. The report also forecasts that Houston is “likely to prove considerably more resilient during a modeled downturn than other markets.”

A quick breakdown of the numbers illustrates good news for anyone looking to cash in on Houston’s apartment market.

  • Q1 2018 rent: $987
  • 2021 projected rent: $1,184
  • Q1 2018 vacancy: 6.2 percent
  • 2021 projected vacancy: 4.4 percent

Things look equally promising in Fort Worth, which the report notes is enjoying “low unemployment and solid job growth, with total employment up 3.1 percent year-over-year.” Apartment rents in the city are projected to leap to 12.3 percent higher by 2021. Fort Worth’s breakdown shows good news for investors and landlords, bad news for renters.

  • Q1 2018 rent: $907
  • 2021 projected rent: $1,018
  • Q1 2018 vacancy: 3.7 percent
  • 2021 projected vacancy: 4.4 percent

With every top buy report comes a warning to sell. Cities where investors should consider unloading are New York; Miami; San Francisco; Oakland, California; and San Jose, California. These markets are witnessing rising vacancies and flattening rents.

But how much is too much growth? Nationally, according to the research, multifamily completions should reach an all-time peak in 2018 as more than 300,000 new units flood the market, outpacing even the highest absorption levels in recent history. As a result, vacancies are expected to drift above 5 percent by the end of the year for the first time since 2011.

Ten-X Chief Economist Peter Muoio noted in the report that “while millennials and other demographic groups continue to forego homeownership in favor of renting in walkable neighborhoods, developers appear to have gotten ahead of themselves in creating rental supply.”

Muoio added that the pipeline “can reasonably be described as a flood and though demand for these units is likely to come in the years ahead, we can expect to see some significant digestion issues in the near term.”

Until that happens, Houston renters would be wise to lock in their lease rates, as it’s clear that our apartment market is anything but flat.