2011 BEST of the BEST Intro

National Real Estate Investor presents its 11th annual rankings of leading commercial real estate companies.

While only a smattering of commercial real estate development is taking place across the country, transaction activity is on the rise due to improving real estate fundamentals and pent-up investor demand. These trends are reflected in NREI's 11th annual Best of the Best compendium of surveys.

In 2007, the peak of the market, San Francisco-based ProLogis completed or had under development 50.5 million sq. ft. globally, easily making it the No. 1 industrial developer. In 2010, development activity for ProLogis totaled just 8.5 million sq. ft., but the company has retained its top spot.

A similar trend has unfolded in the office sector. In 2007, development activity for Houston-based Hines totaled 21.2 million sq. ft. globally, but fell to 11.6 million sq. ft. in 2010.

Meanwhile, transaction activity has rebounded big time across property types. According to Real Capital Analytics, in 2010 there were 1,563 apartment transactions $5 million and above in the United States with a total price of $31.8 billion. That's up from 1,020 transactions totaling $14.7 billion in 2009.

The acceleration of property and portfolio sales was even more dramatic in the office sector. In 2010, there were 1,241 transactions $5 million or higher at a total price of nearly $42 billion, up from 636 transactions priced at about $16 billion in 2009.

Clearly, the uptick in property sales is the driving force behind the improved performance of real estate service providers. The total amount of investment sales and leasing transactions by dollar volume for Los Angeles-based CB Richard Ellis Group in 2010 was $128.1 billion, up from $97.2 billion in 2009.

The world's largest brokerage (NYSE: CBG) also saw its property management portfolio expand from 2.5 billion sq. ft. at the end of 2009 to 2.9 billion sq. ft. at the close of 2010. Similarly, New York-based Cushman & Wakefield's property management portfolio grew from 593 million sq. ft. to 723 million sq. ft. during the same period.

What follows is a look at trends in each property sector and across major disciplines, plus the 12 rankings that comprise the Best of Best. The rankings also appear on nreionline.com.

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