President of the National Association of REALTORS® - 1975
The REALTOR® building at 430 N. Michigan Avenue in Chicago was purchased during Art Leitch's* year in office. Dramatically increased Association membership approaching one-half million made the purchase of a larger building necessary to house staff and provide a greater range of services to members.
The Home Warranty Program on existing homes was a high priority concern for Mr. Leitch. He said that the "importance of this program is seen in the fact that three existing homes are sold for each new one." The program protected buyers against faults in the structural soundness of the home as well as failures in its major component systems.
Heavily involved in legislative matters, Mr. Leitch proposed criteria for condominium legislation protecting consumers from abuses and inequities in their sale and ownership. According to Mr. Leitch, "legislation based upon these criteria, particularly ones on disclosures and condominium association control, would go a long way toward protecting the consumer."
He warned about the perils of rent control when a proposed bill to extend apartment rent controls in Washington, D.C. embroiled that city in controversy. If passed, Mr. Leitch said, the bill "may be a precursor of similar action in other metropolitan areas." He indicated that "the inability of owners to obtain desperately needed rent increases had resulted in wholesale abandonment of once desirable properties."
Mr. Leitch headed a REALTOR® delegation meeting with key Housing and Urban Development officials to discuss the proposed implementation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, which would govern the advance disclosure of settlement costs lenders are required to give prospective home buyers. Sharply critical of the proposed regulations, Mr. Leitch pointed out that the Association's official policy had long recognized that buyers and sellers need professional assistance. In subsequent testimony before Congress, Mr. Leitch called for repeal of the Act. "RESPA has not served its intended purpose and, in many cases, has had a negative effect," he said. Rather than decreasing settlement costs and increasing consumer choice, Mr. Leitch argued that the Act has raised costs through paperwork and delay.
Mr. Leitch had been an Association director since 1960 and served on the Executive Committee for nine years. He was a regional vice president in 1965. Past president of the National Institute of Real Estate Brokers (now REALTORS® National Marketing Institute), Mr. Leitch also was president of the California Real Estate Association Insurance Committee, developing the first errors and omissions fraud insurance coverage available to the real estate industry.
He also served on a number of Association committees and was a member of the San Diego Housing and Appeals Board. He was an instructor for the University of California's Real Estate Extension Division for over 16 years.
Born in Oakland, Calif., Mr. Leitch attended San Diego State University and the University of California. He served in the Army Reserve Corps and the California State Guard. A dental technician from 1928 to 1945, Mr. Leitch began his brokerage business in 1946 with a single office. He headed a full service real estate organization with 12 offices throughout San Diego County.
Source: Presidents of the National Association of REALTORS®, (Chicago: NAR, 1980).