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WASHINGTON, DC-Panelists at yesterday’s RealShare provided ample anecdotal evidence that the District and surrounding submarkets are feeling the pinch. They noted–not surprisingly–that investment sales are slowing–dramatically in some areas–and credit markets are ever-more stringent in their requirements to finance deals. Still, the group of local industry luminaries maintained that the District’s unique fundamentals, such as its status as a global capital city and home to the federal government, leave it well-positioned to ride out the storm. The RealShare Conference Series is produced by Real Estate Media, publisher of GlobeSt.com and Real Estate Forum.

“DC is not in a recession,” said Mitchell Schear, president of Vornado/Charles E. Smith. “We are lucky to be in such a vibrant economy” even though it may not be as robust as it has been in previous years, he added.

The signs of a slowdown here, though, have been unmistakable with panelists across many different sessions–10 were held all together–offering opinions based on their own experiences with the market. For instance, Bruce Baschuk, president and founding partner of J Street Development, said he does not believe by year-end 2008 the District will reach even 50% of the investment sales registered in 2007. Dek Potts, senior managing director of HFF, as another example, noted that, according to his reckoning, 31 office sales closed in January 2007. This January, that number was eight.

With the sobering assessment of current environment out of the way, however, the speakers did not disappoint the 500 to 600 attendees who had come to hear how to get deals past the finish line, despite the ongoing challenges. From Potts: “special tactics are needed. You have to do more arm twisting to get a deal’s story told and sold” to the lenders.

According to Anthony Westreich, president of Monday Properties, it will be those operators with a track record in adding value to a property as well as balance sheet lenders that will “get their day in the sun” as the current market continues to unfold.

Oliver Carr, president and CEO of Carr Properties, advised listeners that it was impossible to time the bottom of the market so there was little point in waiting for the right moment to jump back in. Lenders “comfortable with the underwriting” will go ahead with the right projects, he said.

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