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News release


Houston Skyline captures leasing activity, commands top dollar

JLL’s 2017 Skyline report reveals flight-to-quality despite anemic office market

HOUSTON, July 20, 2017 – When it comes to premium office space it seems there's always a market for it, even in an economic downturn. JLL's 2017 Skyline reveals that despite consolidations, space give-backs and record sublease levels, Houston's Skyline office buildings are still outperforming the market, commanding top dollar and capturing the lion's share of leasing activity.

Skyline is JLL's annual look at office space within some of the most sought-after buildings in 57 markets across North America. Some highlights from this year's edition include:

  • At 19.5 percent, Houston's Skyline vacancy remains below the market-wide office vacancy of 22.4 percent.
  • Houston's eight trophy buildings attracted 64 percent of deals larger than 20,000 square feet since 2016 despite comprising only 36 percent of the Skyline inventory.
  • Skyline buildings command rents that are on average 28.8 percent higher than non-Skyline Class A rents in the CBD.

Skyline rents draw a premium

"Despite ongoing headwinds in Houston's office market, many tenants in the market are still seeking Trophy and Class A+ space," said Executive Vice President John Pruitt.

Asking rents in Houston's Skyline are on average $46.46 per square foot gross. This represents a 28.8 percent premium over non-Skyline Class A buildings in the CBD, which have an average asking rent of $36.07 per square foot gross. When comparing the average asking rents of Houston's Skyline to the overall pool of non-Skyline Class A buildings across Houston that premium jumps to 40.6 percent. Rents in non-Skyline Class A buildings across Houston are on average $33.04 per square foot gross.

Landlords renovate to remain competitive

New Skyline buildings, defined as those built or under construction since 2010, such as 811 Main, 609 Main and 800 Capitol, have capitalized on tenant demand for prime space, capturing approximately 42 percent of Skyline leasing activity in the last year. Tenants have proven willing to relocate for high-quality space feeding the wave of renovation currently happening across the Houston Skyline and broader CBD submarket.

"Landlords understand that trophy buildings don't stay trophy buildings unless they are continuously upgraded to meet current standards for superior office space," said Pruitt. "We're seeing underutilized spaces from the last generation of office space transformed into collaborative, creative and co-working areas to meet the requirements of the next generation of tenants and the future of work." 

Buyers cautiously re-enter the market

With well-capitalized owners and asking rents holding steady in Houston's Skyline, a significant gap between bid and asking prices stymied investment activity throughout 2016. This spread, however, is beginning to tighten and transactions are happening again in Houston.

Year-to-date, Houston has seen approximately $1.3 billion in total transaction volume. A significant improvement over 2016, which saw just $330 million in total sales volume for the entire year. On par with 2014 and 2015 activity levels, Houston's Skyline has seen one office trade, up from 2016 when no Skyline transactions took place.

"We've seen a significant increase in investment activity," said Rudy Hubbard, managing director, JLL Capital Markets. "Cautious optimism and the belief that the worst may be behind us has investors feeling more positively about Houston. Many groups who have been on the sidelines waiting for the right opportunity and the right time are beginning to look again."

About the Skyline

Investors and tenants can access JLL's Skyline via a digital platform. The interactive website features JLL's exclusive market insights regarding office supply, demand, rents, leverage and investment into 57 markets across the United States and Canada. It gives users the ability to compare and contrast individual markets or multiples of markets, as well as individual properties or portfolios. In addition, the site offers videos and infographics, all of which are available via mobile access.

About JLL

JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. A Fortune 500 company, JLL helps real estate owners, occupiers and investors achieve their business ambitions. In 2016, JLL had revenue of $6.8 billion and fee revenue of $5.8 billion and, on behalf of clients, managed 4.4 billion square feet, or 409 million square meters, and completed sales acquisitions and finance transactions of approximately $136 billion. At the end of the first quarter of 2017, JLL had nearly 300 corporate offices, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 78,000. As of March 31, 2017, LaSalle Investment Management had $58.0 billion of real estate under asset management. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit