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WASHINGTON, DC-The Real Estate Roundtable has released a new tool to gauge projections about the industry’s future performance. Called the Sentiment Survey, its inaugural findings are pretty much what one would expect at this point. While some respondents are optimistic that the right combination of policy actions will get the economy moving again after the market bottoms out in mid-year–a sizable contingent believe that 2009 will deliver more pain and little momentum to recovery.

CRE began feeling the pinch in 2007 with the credit crunch; the situation, of course, has noticeably worsened as macroeconomic fundamentals have weakened since then. This dual-track of woe is the reason why respondents are loathe to make a guess at when recovery might happen, since much depends on the government addressing both the recession and the underlying liquidity issues.

The new index includes three data points: a “Current Index”, “Future Index,” and an overall index representing an average of respondents’perspectives on current and future conditions, Real Estate Roundtable president and CEO Jeffrey DeBoer explained during a conference call releasing the results Tuesday morning.

The Current Index dropped from 28 in April 2008 to 17 in October, and increased only slightly in January, to 18. Although the Future Index has also dropped over the past year–from 63 in April 2008 to 49 in October–in January it ticked up to 58, the first time in four quarters.

Perhaps most notable about the survey is the sense of urgency respondents conveyed for the government to act. Indeed, the immediate concern for the real estate industry is the lack of credit, as a huge number of loans are expected to come due this year with no viable refinancing options. No matter what measures are put in place to alleviate this, it will be a slow process loosening liquidity, Adam Weissburg a partner in the Los Angeles office of real estate law firm Cox Castle & Nicholson, tells GlobeSt.com.

“Only the most solvent companies and the ‘best’ real estate deals will be likely to benefit from the initial loosening of capital,” he predicts. “But, as initial steps are taken without any backlash, more and more parties will be willing to extend credit to deals that fit within a more historical institutional underwriting.”

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