Noted housing author and former NAHB chief economist Michael Sumichrast died yesterday of respiratory failure. He was 86.

Sumichrast, a native of Czechoslovakia who fought the Nazis and later fled the Communists, was the top NAHB economist from 1965 to his retirement in 1986.

His books included The Complete Book of Home Buying and Rebirth of Freedom: From Nazis and Communists to a New Life in America.

Sumichrast was well-respected among builders for being a straight shooter. He was quoted often in the press over the years and became known during the recession of the late '70s for predicting a housing crash when the Fed dramatically increased interest rates during that period.

According to the Washington Post, Sumichrast was widely credited with making the NAHB one of the nation's more influential trade groups. Sumichrast consulted former presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush, worked closely with the Federal Reserve, and frequently testified before Congress on housing issues.