GVA Grimley predicts that offices will be the top sector for commercial property investment over the next five years, with returns in the West Midlands expected to outperform the national average.

The firm's latest research, published in its Economic & Property Market Review, shows an expected return from offices of around nine per cent per annum nationally in the forecast period 2006-2010.

This figure compares to 8.5 per cent per annum from industrial and 7.5 per cent from retail.

Figures for the West Midlands office market look even healthier, with a return of 9.6 per cent per annum predicted during the same time-frame - just edging ahead of the central London market, which experts anticipate will bring returns of 9.5 per cent.

Ian Stringer, GVA Grimley Birmingham-based national head of offices, said: "The shortage of good quality, Grade A office space means rental growth over the next five to ten years is expected to be higher here than in other regions of the UK."