Skip to main content Skip to footer

Q1 2021 | Houston Industrial Market Report

Download Report
Industrial demand has accelerated under and after
COVID with e-commerce distribution and new supply
chain requirements leading the way.
Patrick Duffy | President

Key Takeaways

  • Tour activity increases
  • Leasing activity robust
  • Absorption remains positive
  • Vacancy increases slightly as new product delivers
  • Construction activity increases over the quarter, but down on an annual basis

Houston Highlights

Houston’s industrial market continues to see robust leasing activity moving into 2021, recording close to 9 million SF in the first quarter. Houston recorded an average of 8 million SF of leasing activity per quarter in 2020. According to Colliers industrial advisors, tour activity increased over the quarter in both leasing and investment interest. Some of the larger leases signed in Q1 include Awesung (239,124 SF) in the Southwest Corridor, Keller Warehousing & Co-Packing LLC (223,061 SF) in the Northwest Corridor, Amazon (180,000 SF) in the South Corridor, Soft-Tex International, Inc. (166,970 SF) in the Southwest Corridor and Averitt Express, Inc. (159,793 SF) in the Southeast Corridor.

Market Indicators

2021_Q1_Industrial_Market Indicators_small

Historic Comparison

2021_Q1_Industrial_Historic Comparison


Market Fundamentals

2021_Q1_Industrial_Market Fundamentals_new

Executive Summary

Commentary by Walker Barnett | Principal & Director

The steady leasing activity of Q1 2021 was a natural follow-up to the reawakening seen in Q3 and Q4 of 2020. The increasing availability of the COVID-19 vaccines in February and March strengthened consumer demand and built market confidence. Owners and asset managers and prospective tenants who had not traveled over the past year came to the market in growing numbers. Investors continued to pursue income-producing and value-add opportunities with declining yields. Industrial assets that had previously seen 1-2 tours per month saw 3-5 tours per week. As predicted, the uniquity of the vaccine spurred new tenant and buyer demand across all sectors of the industrial market.

As the economic activity increases, the market has also experienced the consequences of the deficiencies in the global supply chain. Some transactions around furniture, automobiles and other consumer goods were delayed due to manufacturing delays and shipping problems. According to Lloyds, a single container ship blocking the Suez Canal for six days caused a global trade disruption of an estimated $9.6 billion each day. Major U.S. auto manufacturers had to idle more than one dozen plants due to a global shortage of semiconductors. Since August, long steel products have seen price increases of 30-40% based on increasing demand and limited supply. These individual data points in the aggregate indicate how much capacity was removed from the supply chain. It will take months, if not years, for the supply chain to right-size itself.

With these stresses has also come the opportunity that benefits Houston’s industrial market. As a major port city, we continue to see “third-coast” diversification with companies locating distribution centers near the Port Houston. There are several significant transactions over 500,000 SF pending lease execution now that will quickly swing the pendulum from a tenant-favored market to a landlord-favored market. The sharp increase in construction pricing will cause some developers to limit new construction and create economic opportunities for owners who have just delivered buildings or were fortunate to lock down construction pricing before the price increases.

As the U.S. emerges from the COVID-19 fog, the success of the vaccination programs has supplied the proverbial shot in the arm for robust economic growth for years to come. Overall, industrial markets in Houston and Texas will continue to benefit from mounting consumer confidence and resulting economic growth. While COVID laid bare many of our societal wounds, it also showed people that there is a better way; there are cities that reward hard work and offer a level playing field for business owners who want to provide for their families and have a better quality of life. We continue to see companies considering relocation from the challenging labor markets and dysfunctional regulatory environments of the Rust Belt and California. Housing prices continue to increase. Leasing activity continues to improve. The transitional period of Q1 2021 bodes very well for extraordinarily strong absorption and market health for the balance of 2021.

Under Construction

Institutional Inventory - 250,000 SF or Greater

2021_Q1_Industrial_Under Construction_chart

Construction Activity

Houston Industrial Construction

2021_Q1_Industrial_Construction Activity



Q1 2021 | Houston Industrial Market Report

Download Report
Related Experts

Lisa Bridges

Director of Market Research


Lisa joined Colliers in 2010 as Director of Market Research and has 37 years of commercial real estate experience. Lisa initiates proactive market research projects to further the business goals of the company. She writes and prepares 29 market reports annually, including quarterly reports on Houston's retail, office, industrial and healthcare properties.  Further, she prepares statistical ownership reports for various clients as well as an annual Houston Economic Overview. Lisa also creates PowerPoint market presentations, trade journal articles, and other marketing materials supporting the company's business endeavors. She works with senior management in planning the company's marketing strategy and public relations support for local and national conferences, luncheon meetings, recruitment programs, and special events.  Lisa works closely with the company's brokers to develop effective custom market research material specific to existing and potential clients.

Lisa serves on the Colliers Editorial Board, the Colliers U.S. Research Council, and is a recipient of the Colliers Researcher of the Year Award.

Lisa earned the Commercial Property Research Certification (CPRC) from Colliers University.  CPRC is the first and only accreditation for commercial real estate research professionals. It offers a professional development path to increase strategic and tactical expertise in marketing/research, knowledge of the industry and capabilities with commercial real estate tools.

View expert

Walker Barnett

Principal & Director


Walker focuses primarily on industrial real estate sale and lease transactions involving warehouses, manufacturing facilities and land in the greater Houston area. He was named Principal in 2010, and was elected as a Director in 2013. He serves on the firm’s Governance Committee. He also leads the industrial division of the firm, a group comprised of 28 industrial real estate specialists. He has demonstrated consistent leadership in revenue production and has been recognized as a regular top ten performer in Houston. Walker has also achieved revenue performance in the top 10% of all Colliers offices worldwide.

Prior to joining Colliers, he graduated from the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management at Rice University in 2002. While earning an MBA, he worked for FedEx in Hong Kong. Prior to graduate school, Mr. Barnett served for four years on the legislative staff of United States Senator Bill Frist in Washington, DC. 

He graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1996.

View expert