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Restore the real estate sector to health, the industry's trade associations say, and the national economy will follow.

Representatives from various facets of the real estate industry, in a joint statement, are urging the federal government to take steps to increase the availability of credit for real estate, promote more affordable housing and stabilize real estate values.They also urge adoption of tax measures that would allow real estate professionals - such as developers and those who manage property - to deduct losses from rental real estate from their gross income.

An industry spokesman said such a move would help developers salvage financially troubled properties and help prevent more failures of savings and loans that that have invested in such developments.

The trade organizations emphasized the toll the credit crunch has had on the industry, especially commercial real estate. Specifically, they want federal regulators to allow banks to loosen credit so builders can finance both new construction and established projects.

"The credit crunch is getting progressively worse and not better," said Mark Tipton, president of the National Association of Home Builders. "It has accelerated and intensified the economic downturn. And now it threatens to derail a potential economic recovery."

The organizations also advocated changes in the tax laws for real estate professionals.