The economic meltdown has caused a world of hurt for many people involved in real estate in the West, but it’s also creating opportunities and attitude shifts. What does that mean for the future?

Less can be more. The end is not nigh. The real estate market—including second-home and resort markets—will recover … eventually. Predictions and advice about opportunity, realism, smart growth, environmentalism—and a slow-paced recovery—were the hallmarks of’s fourth annual Real Estate Development in the Northern Rockies conference in Missoula. The boom-and-bling era of speculation and eye-popping returns on real estate have obviously vanished, said the planners, architects, developers, policy makers, real estate agents, green builders and others who took the stage. But the current economic downturn could fuel a shift that benefits people and the planet, speakers said. When smart growth replaces sprawl, when developers are good neighbors, when downtowns are revitalized and landscapes are preserved, the region will be protected from ugly booms and busts. “It’s really about going back to simplicity,” said Rebecca Zimmermann, an owner of the Denver-based Design Workshop. At the worst moments of the economic crisis, clients told her “every dream I ever had is on hold,” Zimmermann said. “Now, with the stock market back up, there is desire again to have a dream home,” she said—but the dream has changed.
By Amy Linn, Oct 14, 2009


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