Leverage for Lending: Texas’ market creates new opportunities

BY BRANDI SMITH

When oil prices started to drop a few years ago, they pulled Houston’s economy down with them. It took a big toll on the city built on black gold. Late in 2017, a barrel of crude started to
become more valuable, helping Texas’ largest city bounce back.

That rebound is being noticed in just about every sector of the economy, including commercial real estate lending.

“We’re starting to see an uptick in transactions, in buyers and investors looking and more actively approaching properties,” says Bill Dampier, vice president of commercial lending for City Bank. “I think the increase in the price of oil has re-energized the market. It has given investors more optimism in regard to kicking the tires and looking for good buying opportunities.”

Beyond the city limits of Houston and even the borders of Texas, Dampier says there is a lot of capital out there, which means competition among investors. Additionally, it’s likely interest rates will only continue to climb and real estate isn’t getting any cheaper. That means finding a deal might take a bit more effort than it has in the past.

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The sky’s the limit:

BY BRANDI SMITH

Taking flight with Pro Aire Aerial Photography

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the images captured by Pearland, Texas-based Pro Aire Aerial Photography are virtually priceless. However, they don’t comewith the price tag you’re
probably expecting.

“A lot of people don’t realize how inexpensive it is,” says owner Deana Waddell.

A couple times a week, she’s up in a plane, photographing properties all over the greater Houston area from an average height of 1,500 feet, though flying even higher
is an option for larger properties.

“It’s really as simple as opening up the window,” Waddell explains. “We use our high-resolution cameras and telephoto lens to capture all angles to enhance a property.”

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More than just a warehouse

The diverse industrial market in Texas

BY BRANDI SMITH

Stretching across 4,000 acres in Northeast Houston, McCord Development’s Generation Park is a kind of mini-reflection of the largest city in Texas. It is a mixed-use development loaded with every kind of commercial real estate opportunity – from residential to office, retail to industrial.

One of the first tenants to plant a flag in Generation Park was FMC Technologies, now TechnipFMC, which opted to locate its 173-acre, state-of-the-art corporate campus there. Already 2,000 employees strong, the company currently has a footprint of 1 million-squarefoot and room to grow in its next phases.

“I think it took landing TechnipFMC to get people thinking, ‘Wow. This is actually a great location,” McCord says. “Now we’re just seeing people piling on at this stage. It’s very exciting.”

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Connecting the Dotz: Real Estate economist Mark Dotzour offers the big picture

BY BRANDI SMITH

When he retired from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University in August 2015, former chief economist and director of research, Dr. Mark Dotzour, had no intention of leaving that career behind completely. He’d spent nearly two decades researching, writing and speaking about real estate.

“I just got tired and said, ‘You know what? I think I’m going to step down and just do the research and the speaking only,’” says Dotzour. “Since I did, I’ve been out on the road making about 70 presentations a year.”

Dotzour joined the Center in 1997. At the time, it was staffed with experts in land and agricultural and, but not commercial real estate. Seeing an opening, he says he decided to become an expert
in the field. And so he did.

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McAllen: Not just another border town

BY AMY SORTER

McAllen is not just any border town. Now the fifth-largest population center in Texas, the McAllen- Edinburg-Mission Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) has been quietly coming into its own with many service sector jobs in healthcare, leisure/hospitality and retail. Though not experiencing the massive growth of other Texas MSAs such as Dallas-Fort Worth or Austin, this region has been making plenty of waves on the Rio Grande border.

McAllen is home to La Plaza Mall, Simon Property’s 1.2-million-squarefoot regional shopping center that caters to shoppers on both sides of the border. “This is one of the few malls that is actually expanding,” said Rebecca Olaguibel, retail and business development director for the city of McAllen. Simon Property Group recently completed construction of a $71-million, 285,813-squarefoot
addition to the mall. Added Olaguibel: “This is only one in that group expanding its retail footprint.”

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Not-so-simple signs

BY BRANDI SMITH

For most consumers, signs are their first exposure to a brand, be it a restaurant, a store or a service. But often when commercial real estate professionals discuss retail and its trends, that first point-of-contact initially gets forgotten or looked over. That’s not the case at Plano-based American Signs.

“What happens over time in any type of advertising is that the more that someone sees a brand, the more they start to embrace the message that comes with it. Ideally, there’s some trust built into that,” says Bill Young, the company’s general manager. “So when they see that brand while they’re driving by, they recognize it and connect with it.”

Because brands, logos and consumer messages change so often, so too should a company’s signage, according to Young. He estimates the lifespan of a sign to be about 10 years before either the message is obsolete or the weather has taken its toll.

 

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