Paul F. Wendt, a co-founder of the real estate program at UC Berkeley and one of the first scholars to apply modern finance theory to real estate, has died at the age of 91.
Wendt was one of the most important figures in real estate finance in the past century, said Kenneth Rosen, chairman of the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.
Wendt was a native of New York City who earned his Ph.D. attending Columbia University primarily at night while working on Wall Street, recalled Wendt’s former Haas School colleague Sherman Maisel. Wendt served as an officer in the U.S. Navy in WWII and came to UC Berkeley in 1946 as a lecturer.
At the same time, California’s population was expanding quickly. Gov. Earl Warren and University of California President Robert Sproul agreed to a state real estate industry request to use some funds generated by real estate license fees to support an urban research program, along with real estate training and education. Wendt was asked to head the program and became its chairman in 1947, the same year he was appointed assistant professor.
“His footsteps are all around the Bay Area, believe me,” Leon Rimov, a Berkeley resident who had Wendt on his thesis committee while at the business school in the 1950s, said in a statement released by the university.
Wendt resigned from UC Berkeley in 1972, leaving to start a similar real estate center at the University of Georgia in Athens. He returned to UC Berkeley in 1979, remaining until 1983 as a visiting professor at the business school. Rosen said Wendt helped him revive the real estate program starting in 1979, after it had been closed for several years.
Wendt made major contributions to the theory underlying appraisals, to concepts used daily in valuing real estate investments, and to international comparisons of housing policies, financing and land use. He wrote more than six books and 60 articles in major publications. He also worked on land use studies and research for real estate organizations and government agencies, according to Maisel, a UC Berkeley professor emeritus.
Rosen called him “certainly one of the kindest and smartest and most dynamic people we’ve had in the (real estate) field.”
Wendt died on May 14 in Chapala, Mexico, where he and his late wife Alice had lived since 1983, dividing their time between homes in California and south of the border. He is survived by his son, Peter Wendt, and daughter, Susan Shoemaker, both of Oregon.