NAI Robert Lynn launches Houston commercial real estate office

Prominent commercial real estate brand NAI Global, which has more than 300 offices globally, is returning to Houston as two firms join forces to launch a location for the brokerage in the nation’s fourth-largest city.

Dallas-based NAI Robert Lynn is partnering with Chicago-based Hiffman National to start a joint venture under the NAI Global Platform in Houston, the firms announced this week.

The partnership comes after NAI Global’s longtime Houston outlet, formerly known as NAI Partners, broke off from the platform last year to form its own firm known simply as Partners.

“When the Houston market became available to us within the NAI Global platform, it was an easy decision to expand there, especially since we already do business in Houston,” said NAI Robert Lynn President Mark Miller.

The joint venture launches at time when the commercial real estate sector in Houston is bracing for a possible recession as it feels the effects of higher interest rates that have slowed sales activity for commercial buildings. Hybrid work and high vacancy rates in Houston continue to inject uncertainty in the office market, too, with many firms establishing smaller office footprints even as their workers return to the office.

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Meanwhile, although tenant demand for industrial space remains strong, demand is coming down from its peak seen earlier in the pandemic. Net absorption, a proxy for tenant demand that measures the difference between tenant move-outs to tenant move-ins, fell to about 6.1 million square feet in the third quarter from a peak of about 15 million in 2021, according to research from the commercial real estate firm Transwestern. However, Houston’s consistent job gains and population growth are expected to buoy the region’s economy in the event of a recession, according to a recent report from the Greater Houston Partnership.

“We believe in the Texas market strength and Houston in particular,” Mark Miller, president of NAI Robert Lynn, said in an email. “The population growth has been tremendous, and we anticipate that to continue, which is a major driver of commercial real estate. Our company makes decisions for the long-term, and we think Houston is poised to have continued growth for the foreseeable future. ”

Houston ranked 14th nationally for best overall real estate prospects in 2023 in a closely-watched survey of real estate investors by the Washington, DC-based nonprofit Urban Land Institute and global consultancy PwC. Houston trailed Dallas, Austin and San Antonio in the ranking, though it rose from No. 24 a year ago.

Mark Miller, President of NAI Robert Lynn.

NAI Robert Lynn

NAI Robert Lynn expects to have as many as 25 brokers in the region within five years. Miller said he wants the Houston office to match the scale of the firm’s Dallas-Fort Worth operations, where it has 100 employees, including 70 brokers, and is one of the three biggest commercial real estate service firms in the region based on transaction volume, according to the company.

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Hiffman National already has a Houston presence, offering property, project and landlord construction management in the area. It oversees 4.7 million square feet across 30 buildings in the area and will continue to operate separately from the venture with NAI Robert Lynn.

“We are more than pleased that one of our existing members quickly seized the opportunity to backfill a recently vacated territory. Not only does NAI Robert Lynn’s expansion strengthen its ability to serve their clients, it speaks to the value of our brand and how we can compete for business in all the major markets,” NAI Global President & CEO Jay Olshonsky said in a statement.