Residential and commercial real estate are finally enjoying a solid recovery. Housing prices are rebounding nationwide, and residential construction was a leading contributor to overall U.S. growth last year. The market for multi-family apartment buildings is on fire, and money is also pouring into office buildings and retail space.

But national numbers only tell part of the story. To get more texture, we recently hosted regional forums in four very different markets: Pasadena, Omaha, Boulder and Denver. What we found was a wary optimism. Yes, foreign and domestic investors are snapping up properties, often with cash-only offers. But the underlying economic drivers still are weaker than many would like – a reason for caution.

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