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HOUSTON-Experts say that news of the 1.5-million-sf Williams Tower being under contract for $271.5 million proves that fundamentals are strong for local investment. They predict that, with the metro doing better than many other major US cities, more office assets are sure to trade hands in the coming year.

According to a March 24 SEC filing, Hines REIT Properties LP has entered into a contract to buy the 65-story two-tower office complex at 2800 Post Oak Blvd. from locally based Transco Tower LP. The property includes an adjacent parking garage, 2.8-acre park and waterwall beside the tower plus 2.3 acres across the street. It also was reported that $30 million in earnest money has been paid, with the closing scheduled for May 1.

Hines representatives would not comment on the pending acquisition, but did confirm the 26-year-old building is under contract. Hines manages the tower and has its headquarters in it, occupying 9% of the rentable area.

David Baker, executive vice president for Transwestern Houston, says that, even with a sluggish economy, anyone going after a 91%-occupied class A office asset in Houston these days will do well because the vacancy rate is so low. “There continues to be a huge demand for class A space in our area,” he adds. “Fortune 500 companies are here and they continue to demand high-class space for their tenants. Williams Tower fits right into that.”

Baker says trades like Williams Tower is a terrific example of investor interest and confidence in Houston as a buyer’s market. “Owners that have been out of Houston for awhile are back because of what they perceive as a solid, long-term growth prospect for the area,” he says. “These owners are making commitments to upgrading the assets, not that Williams Tower Needs upgrading, and adding to the quality of a project.”

Robert Williamson, managing director in Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP’s Houston office, agrees, pointing out that another year of record employment growth in Houston means buyers will continue underwriting for steady rent increases. “We’ll see this as an active year for investment sales,” Williamson tells GlobeSt.com. “It could be as active as last year.”

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