Much like the Southeast, the commercial real estate market is experiencing a drought of epic proportions. Property sales in the office sector notched just $13.9 billion in the first quarter of 2008, an 82% drop from the $75.2 billion racked up during the same period a year ago.

Buyers and sellers of every property type are at a standoff. While sellers are asking for the lofty prices they paid at the height of the commercial real estate boom in mid-2007, buyers seek to ferret out fire-sale opportunities.

Meanwhile, the capital markets also have dried up in dramatic fashion. Domestic issuance of commercial mortgage-backed securities is expected to be no more than $75 billion this year, a projected decrease of 67% from $230 billion in 2007, according to Savills Granite, a New York-based real estate investment banking firm.

Last year will be remembered as the tale of two halves. Before the subprime meltdown and ensuing credit crunch, private equity was on an unprecedented run. The Blackstone Group closed on the historic deal to buy Equity Office Properties for $39 billion, including debt, which closed in February 2007.

Then Blackstone gobbled up Hilton Hotels for $26 billion, including debt, in a bombshell of a deal that closed in October 2007. A few months later the spigot shut off for private equity as the capital markets went into a tailspin.

In this 8th annual Best of the Best section, NREI ranks the largest players in the industry across several property sectors and disciplines. All totals are as of Dec. 31, 2007. Due to space constraints, only the top 25 companies appear on most survey lists. A complete listing of the totals appears at www.nreionline.com