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SAN FRANCISCO-If access to capital improves and prices continue to fall commercial real estate transaction activity will begin to recover in 2010, according to a LoopNet survey. The poll, conducted over the past three weeks, captured the opinions of 1,500 owners, brokers and investors who are LoopNet subscribers.

Access to capital is the most significant obstacle to recovery, according to 46% of respondents. Another 29% cited economic uncertainty as the most significant obstacle.

While the results were largely consistent across all three major participant segments, owners rate the importance of access to capital slightly higher, and differing price expectations slightly lower, than brokers or investors, according to Mike Manning, LoopNet’s vice president of marketing. Marrying these results with patterns observed in the residential real estate industry, Manning believes demand-side activity will be noticeable in advance of transaction volumes picking back up.

“Given the lead time involved in closing a commercial property transaction—and the need for buyers and sellers to come to agreement on new pricing levels—we would anticipate demand side searching activity to begin increasing several months ahead of completed sales,” Manning tells GlobeSt.com.

As for what year the recovery will begin, 42% of respondents predicted 2010. The bulk of the remainder were split evenly, with 26% expecting it to begin in the second half of 2009 and 26% not expecting a recovery until 2011 or later.

To hit any of those marks, two-thirds of respondents expect that declines of 10% or more from today’s prices will be required to restart the market. More than one-third are predicting 10% to 20% declines while 30% are predicting declines in excess of 30%.

LoopNet members use its online marketplace to search for available space and investment opportunities, as well as to market available properties. Approximately 42% of the survey respondents were brokers. Another 24% were investors and 19% were owners. The bulk of the remaining respondents were classified as “Other.”

LoopNet has approximately 685,000 property listings on its website. It also powers the listings on the websites of four of the largest brokerage firms, including CB Richard Ellis, Colliers International, NAI Global and, most recently, Cushman & Wakefield.

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