In advance of a two-day forum this week exploring the effectiveness of public and private policy responses to the housing crisis, real estate database Zillow Inc. asked some of the forum’s big-name participants to weigh in on what moves they would or would not have made if they had been in President Barack Obama’s place.

The respondents included Jason Gold, a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute; Christopher Mayer, a real estate professor at Columbia Business School; Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries, respectively the CEO and chief economist for Zillow; Scott Simon, a managing director at PIMCO; and Richard Smith, the head of Realogy Corp.

There was a fair amount of sympathy for the dire situation Obama inherited when he took office in 2008, but each panelist had a few suggestions that they believed could help get the market back on the right track.

Gold, for example, said the government should be doing more to change the debt-driven mindset of home buyers, and encourage saving for a first-time down payment by allowing prospective buyers to direct pre-tax earnings to a 401(k)-style account.

Mayer had a harsher take, saying the government had been slow to address many of the key issues keeping private capital out of the market.

Check Zillow’s report for the full rundown to get a taste of what the heavyweights are saying about the long road to recovery.