"It appears the cycle has been turning negative since the firstof the year," George Roddy, president of Roddy Information Servicesin Carrollton, TX, tells GlobeSt.com. "The numbers surprised me inthat the real estate markets in Dallas are larger than TarrantCounty's yet Tarrant has overtaken it by a pretty wide margin."

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Sales information lags the market so Roddy used May stats for2007 and 2008 to assess market conditions, perhaps a betterbarometer than year to date because it's not skewed by thehistorical dog days of summer. Dallas County foreclosure sales are60% higher than last year, hitting 40 sales in the first fivemonths of this year. Tarrant County's foreclosure sales spiked161%, reaching 34 sales at the end of May versus 13 for the sameperiod in 2007. A partial list of June sales shows the trend iscontinuing, he says.

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Roddy says the commercial markets' backslide is more telling infive-month cumulative and one-month comparisons. Dallas salesdropped 18.3% in the first five months of this year versus 2007 andwere off 18% just in the month of May. Tarrant County was down 2.4%for the five-month cumulative and dipped 23% in the monthlyanalysis. "To me that indicates, in the Tarrant County market, thatany slide in real estate sales has begun later than in DallasCounty. It looks like it just materialized in May 2008," he says.The Dallas dip, he adds, may have started to surface in thirdquarter 2007.

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Roddy also broke the stats into market sectors. In DallasCounty's five-month cumulative, apartment sales plummeted 47%;retail, 41% for strip and shopping centers, malls and freestandingbuildings, excluding restaurants; industrial, 17%; office, 6.4%;and land, 14%. The Tarrant County breakdown is multifamily assetsales declined 19%; retail, 18%, industrial, 14% and office, 9%.Land sales, on the other hand, rose 4%, a factor that could bepartially attributed to the steep interest in acreage with BarnettShale mineral rights. He says foreclosure sales primarily are classB minus and class C assets and none from the "pride of ownership"category.

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"The slowdown in the economy and the uncertainty we're seeingall over is having an impact on the psyche of the investmentcommunity," Roddy says. The rising cost of capital is a factor, butnot the primary culprit in his opinion.

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"Fear and uncertainty are permeating the atmosphere. But, it'snot in freefall," Roddy assesses, "and it's not like it was in the'80s. For the times, we're going through the market is handling itpretty well." In 1989, Dallas/Fort Worth's foreclosure salesaccounted for 50% of the 5,000 closed deals, he recalls.

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Roddy, like other market-watchers, says many investors aresimply sitting on the sidelines until after the presidentialelection. "Real estate is a tremendous investment whoever is inpower," he says. "We're going to see some sluggish markets at leastthrough the end of this year and probably into first quarter2009."

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Roddy points out foreclosures and sales are trailing economicindicators. "There may need to be a clear-cut change in directionthat is apparent to us before we see any change. People will haveto know what that is before they act," he concludes. "Most of thisis uncertainty and not knowing where the market is going togo."

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