Peter Burley and David Lynn | Urban Land Institute

BOSTON — The federal government this week pledged nearly $1 billion to help finance the expansion of the Massachussets Bay Area Transportation Authority's (MBTA) Green Line from Cambridge into Somerville and Medford, a major boost for the long-promised transit project, The Boston Globe reported.While many variables will determine the course of U.S. commercial real estate, here are six potential trends for 2015 based on the current outlook:

Increased allocations and capital flows. With most institutions—not to mention high-net-worth investors—still being underallocated to real estate, combined with the strong four- and five-year performance of both NCREIF and NAREIT, we can expect more investment capital coming into commercial real estate. The significant amount of capital would be vexing if not for the fact that real estate seems to offer some of the best risk/reward propositions around, particularly given the multiyear run-up in equity and bond values. Look for higher allocation targets, and more foreign and retail investor money to continue to push capital values up well beyond the 2007 peaks, which should be cause for concern.

Continued low supply. New supply is at a historic low (see figure above), in part because market rents generally have not justified new construction and because financing has remained constrained. This leaves enormous upside potential in the property sectors to push occupancies and rents.

Increased appetite for risk. It has only been in recent quarters that investors have been willing to accept some additional risk to achieve higher yields. That has brought new activity to a number of secondary markets, including Philadelphia, Denver, Austin, and Charlotte, where well-priced Class A properties have come into play. In addition, there has been some “trickle out” through the marketplace into still-riskier placements in the suburban office arena, and into some Class B and C properties, where some investors are making strategic value plays. Finding the best investments in unfamiliar markets can be difficult. Class A office properties in one market are not always comparable to Class A office properties in another. The same is true across the spectrum of property sectors across the range of markets—from secondary markets to tertiary markets—anywhere in the country. Read more