Courtesy TVO Realty Partmers

It isn't just the United States that has seen apartment transactions slow to a crawl. The rest of the world seems to be suffering the same fate. Through June 2008, apartment sales worldwide were down 34 percent compared to the first six months of 2007. Not surprisingly, North America saw the biggest drop in sales, falling 46 percent to $20 billion.

On average, cap rates increased about 15 points in the Americas and Asia and only slightly more in Europe, despite the credit crunch. "The creditcrunch has been very democratic," says Dan Fasulo, managing director for Real Capital Analytics, a New York-based firm that tracks apartment transactions. "Every property type has been affected. Every buyer type has been affected."

Despite a 57 percent decline to $2.4 billion in sales, New York remained the most active market in the world. And eight of the top 10 global markets were in the United States, which comprised 66 percent of the global apartment sales activity.

However, the States didn't have the biggest single deal so far this year. That distinction went to Germany, which saw a $5.4 billion privatization of a 93,000-unit portfolio. The transaction represents 80 percent of German transactions and 15 percent of the global transactions.

There have been a number of major portfolio transactions over the past few years, as the government and employers have privatized worker housing. "They've spun those assets into private hands," says Wayne Vandenberg, chairman of TVO Realty Partners, a Chicago-based company that acquires, develops, and manages real estate assets in America and abroad. "In some of those circumstances, it worked well, but in some, it didn't."