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SAN FRANCISCO-Distressed real estate is about the only real estate game in town these days. And there’s lots of it. One of the keys to knowing whether to take it back or invest in it is assessing its value. And according to Howard Ellman, an attorney in the San Francisco office of Buchalter Nemer, when the real estate is a broken development project, the project’s value depends entirely on how it can be used. How it can be used, in turn, depends on what government agencies have permitted. And according to Ellman, those permits are not simple, static or free.

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