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It’s all too predictable—the U.S cities with the top investment prospects in commercial real estate. Year after year in the Emerging Trends survey—leading the list are Washington DC, New York or San Francisco. Boston and Seattle again in the 2011 report are in the top five. Add two Southern California markets—Los Angeles and San Diego— and more recently two Texas cities—Houston and Dallas and you’ve almost automatically filled out your top ten. After that investor enthusiasm wanes considerably. As one of our interviewees said in this year’s report, there are really only eight or nine cities that investors focus on today—the global pathway markets which attract brainpower jobs or the 24-hour metropolitan areas where young people look to build careers. Typically they happen to be the same places, usually cities with attractive natural barriers to entry along the coasts. At the very least you need a major international hub airport nearby to gain any credibility. Emerging Trends is published annually by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Urban Land Institute—the 2011 edition, which I authored, was released earlier this month.

 Only two markets rate reasonably strong prospects for next year:

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