The outlook was generally positive and motivational during theNYU Schack Institute of Real Estate Alumni Association's Women'sPanel Discussion: "Adapting in an Era of Change." The illustriouspanel boasted Hoit; Ruth Agnese, president of Appraisers andPlanners Inc. ; Susan Chapman, global chief administrative officer,Citi Realty Services; Faith Hope Consolo, chairman, retail leasing,marketing and sales division of Prudential Douglas Elliman RealEstate; Helen Hwang, senior director, New York Capital MarketsGroup at Cushman & Wakefield; and the moderator of the evening,Barbara Champoux, partner at Crowell & Moring LLP. The wisdomimparted by these executives was to focus on opportunity andpreparation.

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"One of the wonderful things that happens [during a downturn],it opens opportunities to move forward [newer initiatives],"Chapman explained. If it helps reduce cost, Chapman pointed out,most companies are willing to look at anything right now; forexample: sustainability programs and revamps. Citi ramped up someof these programs during the upswing and was situated to implementthem when the market turned. Hwang hammered home preparation,especially for sales.

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"Investment sales, there's no volume," she explained. "We'refighting for small deals." With large drops in overall sales in NewYork City, there were bright spots in the future, which is whykeeping in contact with clients and potential lenders was asimportant now as deals in the long-term will be. "You can't makesomething out of nothing," she said. "But the floodgates will open.You have to be prepared."

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Hwang and her team have been seeing possibilities in newrelationships, as well as the tried and true. "[There is] a lot ofnew money in town," she explained. "The old money is suffering,"and you have to be proactive about getting to it. She likened it to"stretching before the actual game starts."

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Consolo, the proclaimed "Queen of Retail," pushed for a similar,more visceral approach: "Come out from behind the machine. Come outfrom behind the desk," she demanded. "You're never going to knowwhat [a client] is thinking if you don't talk to them." Consolochallenged the audience with a rhetorical consideration toemphasize her point: "You know how many deals I can tell are goingsouth just by the tone of [a client's] voice?"

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Gentry also noted that this was a time where helping a start-upcompany was good for long-term business, perhaps giving them abreak on a price for an unfilled property. Consolo concurred,noting, "For Mom and Pop [stores] that were being pushed out, nowis their opportunity."

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Agnese emphasized physical interaction as a current marketdriver, whether it be to "network, network, network" or talking toclients "on a daily basis." She also implored younger members ofthe audience to volunteer with real estate groups and organizationsto get their foot in the door, since it was a hard timeparticularly for entry positions. Champoux reiterated this point,"Even in a good market, you have to be prepared for the nextmarket."

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The current market, however, is an unforgiving place and timeswill be tough, as many of the panelists noted throughout theevening. "Complaining that things are unfair is not productive,"Hwang asserted. "The world will always be unfair; that is acertainty. [Go] full on, head on. Just deal with it."

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Consolo offered some advice on how to handle these vicissitudesof fate that will befall everyone who enters into this tumultuousindustry: "Keep throwing out the rulebook. Keep dancing. The marketkeeps changing."

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