The final sales numbers for commercial properties are now in for November, and they are down by 27% from a year ago. But volume for December and heading into 2010 looks more robust.

According to New York-based researcher Real Capital Analytics (RCA), November investment sales totaled just $3.6 billion, the lowest monthly volume since May. That fact alone mirrors previous years, since November tends to be a slow month.

While volume in November 2009 was off compared to November 2008, the year-over-year drop was the smallest monthly decrease since the start of the credit crunch in 2007.

RCA notes that December sales activity, typically one of the busiest months on the calendar, is already looking up, with volume comparable to November already closed in the first two weeks of the month. More than $10 billion of commercial property is currently under contract. With so much in the pipeline, and more to come, December could wind up being the most active month of 2009, surpassing the $5 billion recorded in October.

Sales for all core property types have been flat to slightly lower since October. Not surprisingly, retail suffered the biggest decline.

Looking ahead, RCA believes sales volume is poised to break into positive territory in January.