I caught up with ULI chairman Jeremy Newsum during his recent visit to Washington, D.C., and asked him for his views on the prospects for recovery in the real estate market.   He told me that while he’s certain the market will recover, he’s not certain when.

“It’s very patchy around different parts of the world,”  he said, although he highlighted some bright spots, including China, Australia and Canada, which are better positioned than other countries to emerge from the economic downturn. But he stressed, “The world economy remains fragile.  And the real estate market inevitably follows the world economy.”

I also asked him whether he sees any real estate firms who have foreseen the “new normal” and adjusted their business models accordingly.

“The ‘new normal’ is something I don’t think I recognize,” he replied.  “But I think I recognize an ‘old abnormal,’  and that was real estate being the puppet of finance.  It was seen more as an investment opportunity than a building for occupation.”

Smart firms, Jeremy said, are the ones who will consider what the future occupiers of buildings — shoppers, residents — want to see differently in the future.