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Four of the most sought-after minds for figuring out the local real estate market gathered for a spirited discussion Tuesday evening in front of several dozen of the region’s financial executives.

Those opining included real estate analysts Gary London and Alan Nevin, financial planner and blogger Rich Toscano, and North County Realtor and blogger Jim Klinge. The four jabbed at each other with data and personal anecdotes as they pieced together a picture of the market and tried to imagine where it might be headed.

Nevin, a self-professed eternal optimist after watching and forecasting in the local market for decades, called the current state of things a “dull normal.”

But Toscano said this cycle’s different from the down periods the market has experienced before. He outlined the unconventional financing that served to spiral values upward beyond their natural peak during the boom. (Check out our Voice Hot Topic: Home Finance for more on the recent history of mortgages.)

According to the panel, the psychology involved in the real estate market is perhaps more palpable than ever. Rising interest rates may serve as a large psychological deterrent, Klinge said.

“Buyers are looking for a reason to stay on the fence,” he said.

London pointed out some demographic elements that could spark a shift in the demand for housing. Generation Y, or the grandchildren of the Baby Boomers, pose a potential 82-million strong entrance into the housing market in the next decade or so, he said.

All agreed it’s impossible to tell when the bottom of the current slump will hit. With a boom that proved longer in years and larger in scope than previous real estate booms in the region’s history, the future is murky at best amid current slumping conditions.

“Econ 101 doesn’t work anymore,” Nevin said.

KELLY BENNETT

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