China overtook the US as the world’s biggest property investment market last year and will probably keep the lead in 2010 on economic growth and a lower reliance on debt, Cushman & Wakefield said.

Real estate investment in China more than doubled to $156.2bn last year, while the total for the US slumped 64% to $38.3bn, the New York-based broker said in a report today. Excluding residential investments, the US came third after China and the UK.

“China will continue to see vibrant investment activity, despite recent government measures to cool down the property markets,” Donald Han, Cushman & Wakefield’s managing director for Asia-Pacific capital markets, said in the report.