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ADDISON, TX-Patience and perseverance was the advice offered by at the seventh annual RealShare Dallas conference on Nov. 13. Panelists and moderators agreed that the economy is stuck, while also acknowledging that in a year or two things should be looking up.

Between 250 and 300 participants showed up at the Intercontinental Hotel. And the majority of the speakers at the conference, sponsored by RealShare Conference Series, which is the real estate conference division of Incisive Media, echoed the headlines.

Nothing is moving, deals are slow to get done and dwindling real estate values have everyone concerned. “There’s a lot of anxiety out there,” said Steve Van Amburgh, CEO with Koll Development Co. in Dallas. “It’s not fun to be in our market right now.”

“The market has us surrounded,” said Jeff Turner, executive vice president of the south region with Duke Realty Corp., headquartered in Indianapolis, IN. “On the one side, there’s the lack of liquidity, meaning there’s no sense of figuring out what projects are worth today, next week, or last week.” On the other side, he added, there is a tightness in the rising cost of capital.

However, economist and real estate investor Zaya Younan chairman and CEO with Woodland Hills, CA-based Younan Properties disagreed with the panel’s gloom and doom and that offered by headlines and media. Not that there isn’t a problem with liquidity; there is. “Banks today aren’t clear as to the impact of this on their balance sheets,” he comments. “What they’re doing is grabbing money, collecting it, keeping it in their banks.” As a result, he said, a lot of cash is out there; but it’s on the sidelines.

As a result, US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is ready to pull much of the $700 billion in bailout funds and start lending it directly to the consumers. “He realized the banks weren’t distributing to consumers, so the government will do it,” Younan remarked. If consumers can start circulating that money, it could be a start to getting things moving.

On the debt side, Vic Clark, managing director with Credit Suisse-Column Financial’s Dallas-Fort Worth office agrees, pointing out that lenders want to do loans, but to get the market moving, a debt product is needed. “If we had something like a Fannie, Freddie or HUD for the commercial side, it would be great,” he acknowledges.

Meanwhile, NorthMarq senior vice president-managing director Bill Jackson compares today’s economy to that of the 1990s. The money is out there, business is being done, but it costs more to do it. “The debt and equity is available if you’re willing to pay for it,” remarked Jackson, who oversees the Dallas-Fort Worth office of the Los Angeles-based company.

The experts agreed on the bright side, however. Sometime between early 2009 and 2010, the money will start circulating through the system again, especially as the government continues prodding at it. Until the billions sitting on the sidelines begin to move, however, the advice is work hard, keep a positive attitude and keep building relationships.

The best way to handle the market from an investment standpoint is to look, but be selective. “There are few buyers in the market,” Younan explained. “This is a time for people to selectively look at an asset, selectively underwrite it, and if it makes sense, to buy it.”

The buyer should also try to put together an inter-loan syndication, he said. “If you’re doing a loan larger than $20 million, go to seven banks to have them back a portion of it. It’s much easier to get financing terms,” he said.

Otherwise, it pays to have a positive attitude until things turn around. “You can’t let them get you down,” Van Amburgh said. “None of us has control over the markets or over the money, but we do have control over our attitudes.”

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