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DALLAS-As gloomy 2008 forecasts roll out national brokerage houses’ doors, a record-breaking crowd of 540 brokers showed up yesterday to find out what the year has store for Greater Dallas. Whether on the stage or in the audience, there is an undercurrent of uncertainty and optimism as the year takes off.

The widespread concerns “may be a fear factor more than anything else,” said Andrew Levy, senior managing director in Dallas for Holliday Fenoglio Fowler LP. “The fundamentals are better down here than what the national press would lead you to believe.” But, he and other panelists agreed: it’s going to be another “wait and see” year.

Barbara Houlihan, NTCAR’s 2008 president and vice president of Dallas-based Peloton Real Estate Partners, moderated this year’s annual forecast by the North Texas Commercial Association of Realtors, which was held at the Hotel Inter-Continental at 15201 Dallas Pkwy. in Addison. Also on the dais were Matt Craft, managing director in Jones Lang LaSalle’s Dallas office; Michael Geisler, co-founder and partner of locally based Venture Commercial Real Estate LLC; and Scott Krikorian, managing director and principal of Trammell Crow Co.’s development division.

In true Dallas fashion, there was scant talk of a recession and plenty of optimism for the New Year. The well-rounded panel of pros agreed that deals are still getting done, rental rates perked up a bit last year and all markets appear stable as 2008 gets underway. The one caveat is the chaos that the concern of recession could ultimately trigger. “Concern is volatile,” Craft assessed. “People might start to be afraid and it’s an election year. That could hurt us in decision-making situations.”

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