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February 7, 2020 Comments Off on Connect Houston Recap: Focus on Economy, CRE and Challenges Views: 999 Texas News, Top Texas

Connect Houston Recap: Focus on Economy, CRE and Challenges

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Houston was ranked “tops” on many lists during 2019. It is also home to an abundance of Fortune 500 company headquarters, the large and active Houston Ship Channel and the massive Texas Medical Center. Yet, dropping oil prices and fears over trade have been taking some of the shine off the Bayou City and its suburbs.

To address the various issues facing the Houston metro, Connect Media invited experts from all walks of commercial real estate and industry to participate in Connect Houston, which took place on Feb. 4 at the Westin Galleria Hotel. During the event, attendees networked, and were treated to insights, information and reality about Houston, its economy and its real estate.

The afternoon started off with “Capital Markets” session, during which moderator Steve Pumper from Transwestern led a three-person panel across a variety of topics, ranging from economic diversity in Houston, to office amenities, and WeWork. When it came to 2020 forecasts, the verdict was divided, especially with a pending major political election. “As it relates to the election, there is always uncertainty, and the markets don’t like uncertainty,” said Osama Ahmed with Brookfield Asset Management. “But tailwinds that are present in the current environment are an abundance of capital, low capital rates and high rents . . . my personal view is that (investing) is a good opportunity.”

Next were discussions about multifamily, with JLL’s Aimee Morgan introducing the first topic, namely what the panelists thought about Ten-X Commercial’s ranking of Houston as a “top buy” multifamily market. The five-person group were all in agreement that the projections hadn’t held up to the expectations. They were also, however, bullish on the market, and sector. “Unemployment is down, rent growth is up, immigration and migration are huge,” said Doug Esteves with Parkview Financial. “Companies are moving here, and we want to be here to take advantage of it.”

The conference’s concluding session, “Industry Leaders,” saw Pat Duffy with Colliers International leading a five-person panel through urbanization, flood plains, housing and the industrialization of retail, to name a few issues. Much like the other two sessions, the experts expressed optimism for the region, even as they provided realistic assessments. Said David Hightower with Midway Cos.: “I’m very bullish on Houston, and always have been, despite what the news says . . . the base (oil) industry is not in its rosiest of days, but it’s also not the 1980s again.”

Pictured (l-r): Osama Ahmed (Brookfield Asset Management); Steve Pumper (Transwestern); Jeff Radar (Pacific Oak Capital); Bob Henning (Northwestern Mutual)

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