A diverse economy is expected to keep local real estate on a path to recovery, even if short-term growth remains slow for both the San Diego and national economies, experts said at a real estate conference presented recently by University of San Diego.

Organizers said about 700 attended the 17th annual conference presented at downtown’s Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel by USD’s Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate.

Asieh Monsour, head of Americas Research for the brokerage firm CBRE, said the nation’s major-metro office markets, including San Diego’s, will continue to move toward equilibrium later this year and into 2014, rather than being slanted in favor of tenants.

Limited new construction has helped commercial real estate recover its value in the aftermath of the recession, and financing for speculative construction remains rare. “It’s a very disciplined approach to development,” Monsour said.

She and other experts said multifamily will likely remain the strongest among commercial sectors for the foreseeable future, thanks to younger consumers’ preference for higher-density housing in urban centers. Monsour said e-commerce is putting pressure on retail real estate, but creating opportunities for the industrial sector as online sellers require convenient warehousing to meet same-day shipping requirements.

Several speakers addressed the need to foster innovation and continue to improve local infrastructure, such as airport services, to make the region competitive for development of projects that bring in new employers and workers.

Speakers also included Ernest Rady, executive chairman of American Assets Trust Inc.; Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs; and Malin Burnham, former chairman of Burnham Real Estate.

— Lou Hirsh