“I find unbounded optimism everywhere over the situation in the real estate industry, generally considered a bellweather for the whole economy,” said Henry Waltemade*, 1955 president of NAREB. During his presidency, an increased demand for housing occurred and a favorable economic climate prevailed. Mr. Waltemade attributed demand the prosperous condition to: younger home buyers that in the prewar years; the elderly maintaining separate households; more “elbow room” in the housing inventory; and consumer emphasis on quality and space.
While president of NAREB, Mr. Waltemade said, “The basis of our strong market for homeownership is the present high level of personal income, which is near the all-time peak; the availability of funds to finance home purchase on favorable terms; and the growing American thirst for homeownership as an expression of our rising standard of living…”
As the housing boom continued through 1955, scare headlines of overbuilding occurred. The Senate Subcommittee on Housing invited Mr. Waltemade’s views on the situation. Waltemade testified, “The home market has none of the characteristics of an erratic or inflationary surge, or of a building boom running out of gear with general economic movements.” He based the stability of the mid-50s home market on a sound and manageable home mortgage debt, production levels responding to demand, construction of primarily low and moderately priced homes, and permitting the removal of unfit housing.
“If the market for homes should be curtailed through restrictive action, its decline would reverberate throughout our sensitively balanced economy.” He said.
Mr. Waltemade opposed public housing and referred to it as “an undermining method under our form of government of meeting the needs of destitute people who must have help obtaining housing….Centralized government must not supplant private industry.”
Mr. Waltemade added, “Public housing makes a portion of our housing supply into public utility, marketed at less than cost at the expense of the taxpayers, with the declared purpose of relieving one type of human distress. Yet the first principal in applying it is to withdraw it from the families in greatest need of some type of assistance. That is wrong, whether done on a large scale or a lesser scale.”
Mr. Waltemade continued to promote the successful anti-slum campaign. He moved the campaign ahead full force, with a new twist, “No slums by ’60.” His efforts were favorably supplemented by those numerous state and local officials.
Past president of the New York State Association of Real Estate Boards, Mr. Waltemade also served as president and governor of the Bronx Board of REALTORS® and as regional vice president of NAREB. In addition, he was an active member of the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers, New York State Society of Real Estate Appraisers, American Society of Real Estate Counselors and Society of Industrial REALTORS®.
Prior to his retirement in August 1980, Mr. Waltemade was chairman and chief executive officer of Dollar Savings Bank of New York. When he first joined the bank in 1965, he held the additional position of president. In 1926 he joined the family realty firm, H. Waltemade, Inc. REALTORS® as secretary/treasurer and served as president of the company from 1938 to 1965.
Source: Presidents of the National Association of REALTORS®, (Chicago: NAR, 1980).