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Commercial property deals expected to increase in '11

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LOS ANGELES -- Sales of office, retail, industrial and apartment buildings are likely to rise as much as 40 percent in 2011 as the U.S. economy recovers, said Peter Roberts, chief executive officer of the Americas at Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.

Commercial property transactions totaled about $95 billion in the United States last year, according to Roberts, who spoke at a Jones Lang LaSalle (NYSE: JLL) conference

Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles.

"The U.S. recovery will move inward from the coasts," Roberts said. "Fundamentals are improving slowly in most markets."

Demand is rising for the best office buildings in major markets including New York, San Francisco and Washington as investors seek returns higher than fixed income.

Commercial real estate prices rose 1.3 percent in October from the previous month, the second consecutive monthly gain, Moody's Investors Service (NYSE: MCO) said Dec. 20.

"Large corporate occupiers are cash-rich and will lead the recovery this year," Roberts said Thursday.

"Class A space will begin to start to get scarce, especially in major markets," he said, referring to offices in top-tier buildings.

Expansion in economies including the U.S. will be "subdued" compared with emerging markets, which will have "very strong" growth, Roberts said.

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