The world’s largest real-estate services firm has raked in a significant increase in profits as improving sentiment in Europe boosts commercial property transaction activity in that market.

Californian based CBRE saw a 60 per cent rise in underlying earnings from $US51.5 billion in the first quarter of 2013 to $82.4 million in three months to March this year.

Driving the result was a rebound in transaction activity across the EMEA region, where stronger transaction activity in Europe along with the acquisition of United Kingdom based engineering services firm Noreland saw a $US6.2 million loss turned into a $5.1 million profit.

Income rose 16.6 per cent from $US74.6 million to $US86.6 million in the Americas, meanwhile, and by 77 per cent from $2.9 million to $5.2 million in the Asia Pacific on the back of stronger sales, leasing and occupier outsourcing activity in the United States and improved performance in Australia, China and Japan.

CBRE president and chief executive officer Bub Sultenic said the numbers reflected a solid performance across all business lines.

“We are very pleased with our strong start to 2014,” he said.

CBRE earnings

Commenting specifically on Australia, CBRE president and chief executive officer of Australia and New Zealand Tom Southern said growth is largely being driven by the upturn in the housing market on the eastern seaboard, where apartment buying activity is on the rise as first home buyers find themselves increasingly priced out of traditional housing options. In those markets, one bedroom units and study units are proving most popular.

The company was also seeing further signs of sale and leasing activity in the industrial market – a sector Southern says is well placed to benefit from an economic recovery and further yield compression as the rent cycle improves.

In terms of the forward outlook, Sulentic did not offer specifics but said CBRE is encouraged by a strong start to the year in property sales.