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(Ian Ritter is national online editor for GlobeSt.com/RETAIL.)

NEW YORK CITY-While industry leaders thoughts are mixed on the future success of the real estate industry, some are saying that retail could experience a bit of a downturn, according to a panel here at the Urban Land Institute’s Regional Trends Conference.

“You have to watch the consumer, obviously,” said Charles Leitner the global head of Rreef Real Estate, which is an arm of Deutsche Bank. “Retail is ultra-sensitive to interest rates.” With the housing market dipping, consumers might not want to spend as much on retail purchases, he added.

Michael Fascitelli, president of Vornado Realty Trust, cautioned investors to be “very careful” when choosing retail assets for acquisition. Meanwhile, most of the quality retail properties that were on the market have already been snapped up, and their owners are holding on to them, said Andrew Merin, vice chairman of Cushman & Wakefield.

But Merin said he’s not convinced an increase in interest rates or a major upturn in the stock market will impact real estate as a whole negatively. Two areas that could hurt the industry are a lack of product on the market and the threat of a possible large-scale terrorist attack, he said.

Meanwhile, there is no lack of money chasing deals, said Joseph Azrack, president and chief executive officer of Citigroup Property Investors, but there are fewer options to invest in property. “This is a market that’s very confusing for us that have been through a few cycles,” he said.

Looking toward the future, speakers say that land deals, value-added undertakings and any affordable investment in New York City are strong bets. “New York is a market I would never bet against,” Leitner said.

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