The big growth industry of the future will be housing rehabilitation, a top savings and loan executive predicts.

"There is a tremendous market for rehabilitation housing and there is a tremendous increase coming," said Stuart Davis, president of the U.S. League of Savings Associations, in an interview.

"People are coming back to the cities," he said. "People are looking for homes in the city and the only way to find that many homes is through rehabilitation."

"We used to think that every 25 to 30 years we had to move out of a house and find a new one," he continued. "Now we see houses 200 years old that are very livable if they've been kept up. That's something were just now learning."

One problem is that there aren't enough people skilled in housing rehabilitation work, David said.

In agreement with Davis' description of housing rehabilitation as a future growth industry was John C. Opperman, chairman of the United Claifornia Mortage Co., of San Francisco.

"More creative financing can be employed in rehabilitation work," said Opperman. "The opportunities for creativity are really infinite."

But he warned that in rehabilitation apartment buildings there is more risk involved.

"When we get into such property, you're not sur how much it will cost to clean it up," Opperman said. "You're also not quite sure if it will rent up. Appraisals are more difficult. And there have to be incentives to pull mortgage financing money in for rehabilitation work."

He suggested the use of loan and lease guarantees and tax abatement programs, along with fve-year acceleratee depreciation schedules.

James E. Crum, operations officer of the First Wisconsin National Bank of Milwaukee, told those attending a recent revitalization task force workshop here how to provide the initiative to start communities on the road to revitalization. His suggestions:

The best possible use must be made of existing local, state and federal programs aimed at revitalizing the metropolitan community.

Local developer, lenders and businesses must demonstrate their commitment to the community, backed by money, time and effort from all segments of the community, including the private sector.

Local government must demonstrate its commitment to the future of the community by ensuring that adequate jobs, schools, health care, transporation and municipal services are available to accommodate the rehabilitation process.

Incentives for business and individuals to accept the risks of rehabilitation existing structures and to build new ones. These should include property tax abatement.