There will be so many opportunities in the next 18 months that"this will be the first time in many years we will raise capitaloutside the company," the chairman and founder of locally basedHall Financial Group tells GlobeSt.com. "I view the opportunitiesthat are coming up as better than any we've seen since themid-1980s." Hall says the plan is to amass capital from USinvestors to buy bricks and mortar, notes, mortgages and fundcompanies that need help. And, he's got financial institutionssquarely in his sights to cherry-pick their debt.

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Hall made his fortune mining the apartment market in the 1980s.This time, his favorite target will be high-end residential,specifically unfinished condos caught up in "complicated messes,"he says. "We are going to focus on things that play to ourstrengths and historical nature. We are replaying a lot of thingsthat we hoped would never happen again." But, his marching ordersfor the team are to stay flexible on property type.

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Hall says his company is even more prepared this time than itwas in the 1980s to seize market opportunities. "We're really in amode of trying to take advantage of the opportunities. It will bechallenging and fun and hopefully very profitable," he says. "I amconfident it will be an advantage for us. At the same time, I'msorry these problems are here for the people who are going to behurt."

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The street-savvy investor is particularly concerned aboutsingle-family owners although his scope is commercial. "We aretalking about people who worked their whole lives, played by therules and then the world changed quickly and they are losing theirlife savings," he says.

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Like economists near and far, Hall forewarns commercial realestate will take much longer to recover than the other sectors."It's going to be a very long and difficult downturn for commercialreal estate. This is not a short blip. It's not going to be over insix to 12 months," he emphasizes. "The real estate cycle is goingto be longer than the recession itself."

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Hall Financial Group has de-leveraged and downsized debt, whichits chairman strongly advises all to do in order to weather thelong haul ahead. Second, Hall advises management to "be realistic"about overall business and "not treat the future like they did in2006 and 2007." Third, lower overhead. And finally, accept the factthat cap rates are up and are going to stay up.

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Hall predicts a lot of assets will be traded once fair valuesemerge from the ashes of the financial debacle. He estimates valueswill drop 25% on average, which could erase an owner's entireequity if an asset is highly leveraged.

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Hall says the inevitable erosion of values is why it's socritical to de-leverage to weather the storm. "As lenders have theability to squeeze borrowers for pay-downs, they're going to dothat. And, that's going to be the process for 18 months," hesays.

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"Real estate is a local business. Each area will be different,"Hall says. "In the mid-1980s, Dallas was one of the worst areas inthe country and today it's one of the best." Developers didn'toverbuild this time and property values didn't run up as high asother areas of the country.

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But, the future will hold less demand for space amid layoffs andrising unemployment. The rapidly changing times require "a freshlook at liquidity and cash flow and evaluations of markets. Manypeople aren't good at that," Hall says. "It takes an optimist to bea successful real estate owner and developer. In good times, that'show you get the deal. In a challenging environment like this, beingoptimistic can be detrimental. In this environment, it takes arealist to survive."

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