"It was harder to finance the bigger deals," says CMG researchdirector and SVP Mary Sullivan Kelly, whose firm estimates totalsales at $1.16 billion for all property types, includingindustrial, multifamily, office and retail. That is $450 millionbelow the 2007 Q1 results when discounting the Blackstone/EOPactivity. Particularly in the suburbs, transactions were generallyunder $20 million, Kelly tells GlobeSt.com.

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The $477-million purchase of a 49% interest in 53 and 75 StateSt. from RREEF by majority owner Brookfield Financial Partners madeup the lion's share of Boston office building sales in Q1, relaysCMG. Brookfield, in a deal first reportedby GlobeSt.com, took full control of the two office towers inJanuary after Rreef's share was shopped to other investors for muchof 2007. Five other office building sales pushed the total to just$507 million for Boston, well below the $850 million traded in Q12007, minus Blackstone/EOP. Among the early 2008 sales was theacquisition of 4 Liberty Sq. to locally-based Synergy and 285Summer St. to New York City-based Aegean Capital.

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The pace was even slower in Cambridge, where a $24.5-millionsale/leaseback involving New Boston Fund, as the buyer, was theonly quarterly completion compared to $140 million in Q1 2007.Suburban volume plunged from $800 million to $177 million. Amongthe largest deals was the sale of Rivertech Park inBillerica for $45 million, this time with New Boston Fundon the seller side, as reported by GlobeSt.com.

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A flight to quality has been one result of the disruptedmarketplace, says CMG, with investors targeting core communitiesand higher-end assets, partly from lenders aiming to "cherry pick"deals. The dearth of commercial mortgage backed securities moneyhas severely curtailed debt availability, and CMG says banks andinsurance companies are being rigid in their underwritingassumptions. According to sources, several promising deals havebeen slowed, or quashed completely, in recent weeks, some of whichreportedly collapsed due to lender intransigence.

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Most experts had anticipated a torpid beginning for investmentsales, says Kelly, and she concurs that the immediate futureremains cloudy. On the bright side, however, Kelly notes that CMBSspreads have started to drop, possibly signaling that the capitalfreeze may be thawing. "We'll take any good news we can get," Kellysays, adding that real estate denizens can be comforted, realizingthat an 8.7% vacancy rate and average rents back into the $50 persf range are impressive fundamentals for Boston, particularly withonly limited new inventory underway. "It shows that when the marketgets its footing back, we are going to be in a good place."

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