The U.S. economy is in a reset mode, and so is the capital-intensive commercial real estate industry. In a deleveraging world, the once common 85% loan-to-value deal has become a rare collector's item.

The unhealthy combination of a free fall in housing prices over the past two years, a persistent credit crunch, massive job losses, and a considerably weakened stock market has taken a big bite of many Americans' net worth. And it's not going to return to peak levels for several years to come, most experts agree.

This year's Best of the Best company rankings reflect a much harsher business climate than when the market was flush with capital in the halcyon days of the mid-2000s. For example, the financial totals reported by many direct lenders fell 30% to 50% in 2008 compared with the prior year.

Wachovia provided $13.4 billion in financing to the commercial real estate industry during 2008, down from $74.6 billion in 2007 — an 82% decrease. In January, Wells Fargo acquired Wachovia for roughly $12.7 billion after Wachovia suffered deep financial losses tied to adjustable-rate mortgages in residential housing.

The credit crunch and recession continue to deal a major blow to selling activity in the property markets as well. Transactions across property types totaled slightly more than $2.1 billion in May, down from $9 billion in May 2008 and $19 billion in May 2007. For its part, CB Richard Ellis notched $138.8 billion in investment sales and leasing transactions in 2008, down from $264.2 billion the previous year, a 47% drop.

The 12 rankings that make up the Best of the Best include the largest players across several property sectors and disciplines. Due to space constraints, only the top 25 companies appear in print. A complete listing of companies, including totals and top officers will appear at www.nreionline.com.