CBRE ranks as the top broker in sales of properties in the $5 to $25 million range, taking the top spot for the multifamily, industrial and office sectors for those property types, according to a new report from Green Street, which ranked the brokers by small property sales last year. 

CBRE was followed by Cushman & Wakefield, Marcus & Millichap (which also nabbed the top retail spot), Newmark, Colliers International and JLL. Hunter Hotel Advisors won the hotel ranking. The results are drawn from responses of 35 brokerage firms to an inaugural national survey of small property deals, as well as from Real Estate Alert reporting, property records, and other public information.

Around $37.9 billion in small properties sold last year as opposed to $49.4 billion in 2019a 23.3% decrease, according to Real Estate Alert. Conversely, assets valued in excess of $25 million saw deal velocity decrease by 34.6% during that same period. 

Private-capital deals had a better time of it than institutional investors, thanks in part to the fact that smaller investors were able to keep buying when the pandemic ground institutional markets to a halt. In Q2 2020, the sales of properties valued above $25 million sank 73%, while deal flow for smaller assets only declined by 48%.

What’s more, the market for smaller assets is typically made up of investors looking to take advantage of Section 1031 tax-deferred exchanges and to increase cashflow, and experts agree many of those buyers closed deals in 2020 on fears that then-presidential candidate Joe Biden would eliminate the tax benefit for like-kind deals. 

And while President Biden now appears poised to scrap the idea, “[I]f someone had an exchange, they were likely to push it through in 2020 if they could, or will do so in 2021 with the looming political risk in the exchange market,” Kevin MacKenzie, an executive managing director of capital markets at JLL, said in the report. “That is helping support deal velocity.”

Sales of small warehouses, distribution centers and self-storage buildings were the only market segment that saw an increase last year, popping up 8.3% to $10.1 billion. Apartment transactions in the small property class decreased 23.0% to $11.8 million, and sales of small retail, hotel, or office product decreased by between 33% and 38%. But despite those declines, each sector outperformed its complement in larger properties. 

“There was no pandemic playbook, but we knew the sub-$25 million space would not drop as much,” said Kevin Aussef, CBRE’s global chief operating officer of capital markets, told Green Street in the report. “The recovery of the $25 million-plus market was the surprise, not the continuation of activity in the under- $25 million. Historically, that market tends to be more resilient.”