That was the consensus on Thursday, along with a heavy dose ofpessimism about the economy, and commentary on everything from thelending crisis to the near-term future of the multifamily industrydelivered by dozens of speakers to some 1,200 people attending theRealShare event at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles.

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The all-day conference and networking event was closely tied tothe current state of the economy and the commercial real estatemarkets as well as the financial situation on Wall Street.

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This year's Apartments 2008 conference included a lineup ofnearly 60 speakers and panels designed to address every facet ofthe multifamily market, its relationship to the industry in generaland other industry issues. The event featured a presentation byCMBS pioneer Ethan Penner, now with CB Richard Ellis Investors,whose talk was more like a eulogy for the market to which his nameis so closely tied.

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"CMBS as we know it is really gone for good," Penner said. "Ithink it's going to take years to fill the void that's been createdby the death of CMBS." He also expressed concern for thegovernment's bailout package, saying that "authorizing thegovernment to outbid the market for distressed assets is a very,very scary precedent."

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He added, "I am personally very, very concerned about movingdown a socialist path with this country. If we preserve a semblanceof the free market, this downturn will be reversible. But if welose our free market, we're in big trouble."

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Penner was one of many speakers who addressed the bailoutpackage.The RealShare conference started with Incisive Media's RealEstate Group publisher Michael Desiato, who noted, "We are introubled waters." Desiato was followed by a presentation fromHessam Nadji, managing director of research services for Marcus& Millichap. Nadji examined the latest economic and marketconditions, presenting the Marcus & Millichap outlook for themultifamily industry and the economy in 2009.

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"The government's gone from being a source of stimulation tobeing a source of reinvention," Nadji said of the bailout. "I wouldsuspect that we will get another stimulus package. I expect to seethe $750 billion go up."

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During a panel titled "Have the Housing Crisis and Local andNational Economies Hit Bottom?" Randall Zisler, chairman and CEO ofZisler Capital Partners, said, "I think it's very, verytreacherous, buying apartments." Of the bailout, he noted, "I thinkit's going to go much higher."

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Chris Thornberg, a principal with Beacon Economics, put in thatlack of credit is not so much the culprit behind falling homeprices and sluggish home sales, but "the problem isgravity."Thornberg, who noted that the peak median home price forthe region that at one point was approaching $600,000 was just toohigh for most families, requiring them to spend as much as 70% oftheir income to make home payments.

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Thornberg said he believes that when all is said and done homeprices will have fallen 50% to 55% from their peak. "We're probablytwo-thirds of the way there," he added.

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During "The CEO Panel: What to Look for in the 4th Quarter andWill it be a Preview of 2009?" Marcus & Millichap president andCEO Harvey Green addressed the prevailing economic uncertainty inthe nation, saying "I really have no idea" how the economy's goingto be in 2009, but Green said on a long-term basis, "apartments arewithout a doubt some of the best asset classes."

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BRE Properties president and CEO Constance Moore stated: "At BREwe say Zen until 2010."

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Among the full day of panel sessions is one that was entirelynew this year, a property management session. Other panelsthroughout the day focused on finance and the capital markets, theimpact of the housing crisis on commercial real estate, traditionaland value-add investment, green buildings, technology and more.

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Other highlights of the day included the presentation of aLifetime Achievement Award to Martin Stolzoff, founder of the RealEstate Conference Group. Stolzoff is known as a pioneer inproducing real estate industry conferences, including the annualRealShare apartment conference, which is now produced by RealEstate Media, a division of Incisive Media.

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Stolzoff was introduced by Preston Butcher, founder and CEO ofLegacy Partners, who called Stolzoff the "Paul Bunyan of thisindustry; he's an icon of this industry.

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The crowd treated Stolzoff to a standing ovation. "I accept thisaward on behalf of myself and the more than 1,800 industry leaderswho have spoken at our conferences," Stolzoff said. He went on tosay, "I'm sure when I look back at my life, today will be one ofthe most memorable highlights."

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Apartments 2008 is one of an annual schedule of RealShare eventsthat are produced by Incisive Media's real estate division, whichis the publisher of GlobeSt.com, Real Estate Forum magazine, RealEstate Southern California magazine and a host of other offerings.Incisive Media is a leading provider of specialist businessinformation for commercial real estate, legal, financial services,risk management and marketing professionals.

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For more RealShare Apartments coverage click here

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