It’s good to be king. That, in a nutshell, describes the last year in South Florida’s commercial real estate market. Whether it’s offices or retail, industrial buildings or land, high-profile and desirable properties went for prices that were reminiscent of the boom days of a few years back.

But behind the scenes, second-tier and tertiary products languished like lovelorn spinsters from a Dickens novel. As one player put it, there’s plenty of cash out there. But the cash can afford to be picky.

And another trend appeared to take place: Most of the big deals of the last year were in the first half of it. As the summer slowdown in the economy took root, deals started to dry up. Blame a bunch of factors, among them the lingering financial crisis in Europe, American bankers who live in fear of rubbing regulators the wrong way, and a virtual lockdown in the market for commercial mortgage backed securities (CMBS).

As we draw closer to a new year, however, at least some of those market pains appear to be easing. What that holds for the commercial real estate market going forward isn’t easy to predict –we’ve been surprised in both good and bad ways in recent years.

But what’s clear is that the things that make South Florida attractive for millions of residents and tourists alike mean landmark properties are still able to command impressive prices to investors globally. Not every region recovery from recession can make that claim.

Information for this report was collected from public records, published reports and other sources but is not exhaustive. Selections were based on sales that occurred between Oct. 15, 2010 and the same date this year.

The Great Divide
In a world of “trophies and train wrecks,” deals are being made. But action is muted because of nervous lenders and weak consumer spending. One opportunity: Some investors are purchasing distressed debt at a discount.