Thirty cities get half of global property dollars

Wed Jan 25, 2012 11:19am EST

(Reuters) - More than half the recent global investment in commercial real estate found a home in just 30 cities with a quarter spent in London, Tokyo, New York, Hong Kong and Paris, according to real estate services company Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL.N).

In a report released on Wednesday, it said it expects major cities in emerging markets to increasingly become viable contenders for real estate investment dollars, expanding its list of 30 "alpha" cities over the decade.

By 2020, the list likely will broaden to the top 50 with investment spreading to such cities as Mexico City, Delhi, Guangzhou, Houston and Istanbul, Jones Lang LaSalle said.

Those cities were attracting global corporations, who are most often tenants, it said. Yet, as the quality of the buildings there improve and the real estate markets become more transparent, and the buying and selling becomes easier, these markets become safer for investment.

The study included investments in shopping centers, malls, office buildings, warehouse and distribution centers, and hotels. The report does not include apartment buildings.

Within 10 years, the bulk of commercial real estate investment will be in assets located in 300 cities where technology enables large global companies to operate in more cities, Jones Lang LaSalle said. Those include secondary and tertiary cities in China as well as those in more mature economies such as Austin, Texas.

Even with that expansion, traditional real estate investment markets will retain their top positions, especially those in the United States, said Jeremy Kelly, a director of global research for Jones Lang LaSalle and author of the report.

"While, the Asian/Pacific story is very compelling, and many real estate players are focusing on the growth opportunities there, we shouldn't forget the chunkiness, size and growth potential of many U.S. cities," Kelly said. "They are among the most innovative, and they are huge cities. Eleven of the top 30 in 2020 will be in the United States."

(Reporting By Ilaina Jonas in New York; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

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