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LAS COLINAS, TX-Student housing was one of the few commercial real estate sectors that weathered 2008 without too much fallout. As the recession continues, however, it’s uncertain whether the commercial real estate slowdown overall will impact student housing and if so, how.

The second annual RealShare’s Student Housing conference on April 14-15 at Four Seasons Resort and Club is being presented at a time during which people are taking a more realistic look at student housing says Brian Klebash, Incisive Media’s Conference Producer, RealShare – Real Estate. “There’s still a general sense of optimism in this sector, despite the recession and capital markets turmoil,” Klebash tells GlobeSt.com. “But there’s no doubt things are slowing down. People want to know what’s next.”

To answer the question of “what’s next,” the conference will include “RealShare Fact or Fiction,” during which American Campus Communities Inc. president and CEO Bill Bayless and Campus Apartments Inc. president and CEO David Adelman will offer insights and opinions about various aspects of the industry.

RealShare Student Housing will have a town hall meeting, during which panelists will discuss trends in investment, development and financing in the current market. Also on hand will be Freddie Mac’s vice president of sales and production multifamily Mitchell Kiffe with Freddie Mac, who will provide insight about debt and equity financing in this sector.

When the first RealShare Student Housing conference took place last year, the economy was in a recession. But money was still available, deals going through and student housing was considered a darned good investment.

But things have changed in a year. With credit markets still frozen and lending becoming extremely conservative, transaction volume in student housing slowed down, Klebash says. Smaller and medium-size deals are being traded. And some of those supposedly recession-proof student housing assets are ending up in default because enrollment in certain areas is down.

To deal with these issues, the conference’s breakout sessions will include “Who is Filling the ‘Credit Void’ for Student Housing,” “Design and Development Response to Today’s Economy” and “Distressed Student Housing: Look Before You Leap.” Also on the agenda is a post-lunch presentation “Effectively Managing the Realities of Today’s Economic Climate for Student Housing: Has the Time Arrived to Change or Lower Expectations?” Klebash says the panelists will examine, realistically, the impact that a two-year recession is likely to have on the market.

Klebash says the event is drawing intense interest, and attendance numbers should surpass the 400 who showed up last year. “We’re at more than 400 now,” he says. “We’ll likely have between 450 and 500 for this one.”

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