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LOS ANGELES-The housing market took a big hit when the New York Stock Exchange suspended trading of Southern California-based subprime lender New Century Financial Corp. recently, but capital markets remain strong in the commercial sector. Wall Street continues to price REITs below their net asset value, but private buyers are paying record prices in deals like the Equity Office Properties breakup.

How to reconcile these and other mixed signals in the real estate industry and the economy will be the recurring theme throughout the day on March 27 at the Los Angeles Convention Center when more than 1,000 attendees are expected to gather at Real Estate 2007, the premier annual event in the Los Angeles RealShare series. Rich Kelley, director of the RealShare series, tells GlobeSt.com that this year’s conference will offer more panel sessions than ever before so that attendees will have a chance to examine every commercial real estate sector in detail while still being exposed to broad overview assessments of the industry.

“There is more choice this year and more opportunity to learn and network than ever before because we have expanded the panel sessions to allow attendees to choose the sessions that are most interesting and relevant to them,” Kelley comments. The conference will include 11 panel sessions, plus the keynote address and three special presentations, along with the presentation of a Lifetime Achievement Award to Don Koll of Newport Beach-based the Koll Co.

The speakers and panelists at this year’s event are among the most qualified in the industry to tackle what Kelley says will be a primary theme running throughout the conference: Has the market reached the top, and where are we poised to go from here? “Given some of the recent stock market jitters, the subprime lending situation and other concerns, people are starting to ask whether there has been a shift in the overall economy, either temporary or long-term, and what the repercussions could be for real estate,” Kelley says.

Presentations and panels at the RealShare event, which will feature the top companies and top leaders of those companies, will help attendees answer some of those questions and make business decisions “for the rest of this year and 2008,” Kelley adds. In addition to the new panels and a record-breaking number of speakers and sponsors, another first this year will be the venue for Real Estate 2007.

“The event has grown so large and become so popular that the Convention Center was really the next logical and feasible facility to accommodate it,” Kelley says. “We have been getting some very positive feedback about traffic access and commuting, saying that going to the Convention Center will be easier than going to the Westside.”

The conference will kick off with opening remarks by Michael Desiato, group publisher of Real Estate Media, and Marty Stolzoff, founder of the Real Estate Conference Group. The first session will be a panel discussion addressing the local, regional and national economic outlook for commercial real estate in 2007.

Next up will be the keynote address by Michael Pralle, president and CEO of GE Real Estate, followed by a brokerage panel titled “The word from the street: Brokerage dealmakers discuss deal flow and velocity in today’s market.” Following the brokers will be three special presentations: the state of private equity funds by Scott Farb, managing principal of the Reznick Group; real estate risk and insurance strategies in a transitional market by Alexandra Glickman, area vice chairman for Arthur J. Gallagher Co.; and public/private development partnerships by Lew Feldman, Los Angeles chair of the Goodwin Procter law firm.

Following the morning break, the first set of concurrent sessions will offer three choices: the outlook for leasing, investment and development in office property; opportunities and potential pitfalls stemming from the growing convergence of retail and mixed-use projects; alternative investment plays in net lease, 1031 exchange and TIC opportunities.

The first event of the afternoon will be the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award to Koll, with the presentation to be made by partner Frederick Allen of Allen Matkins. The first general session of the afternoon will focus on “opportunities and exit strategies in the frothy investment sales market,” followed by a panel discussion of capital markets and finance, including strategies for creative debt and equity structures.

The afternoon’s concurrent sessions will offer the choices of panels on what’s driving deals in today’s apartment and condo markets, the state of the logistics and supply chain industry and career building. Kelley points out that the career building session is especially apt in today’s world. It is titled “career building in a changing real estate landscape” to address questions about how individuals and companies should be thinking in light of changing conditions in the industry.

The final session of the day will be titled “Development is back! How to unearth, entitle and develop successful projects in the current development cycle.” It will feature a panel discussion by some of the industry’s most prominent and active developers.

The event will conclude with a cocktail hour and networking session designed to provide “more opportunity to learn and network,” Kelley observes. The Real Estate 2007 conference and other RealShare events are produced by Real Estate Media, publishers of GlobeSt.com, Real Estate Forum magazine and Real Estate Southern California magazine.

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