People - AUGUST 12, 2014

Ray Torto retires from CBRE, stays busy

by Reg Clodfelter

Capping a storied career, Ray Torto, former global chairman of research, CBRE, has officially retired from the firm.

“It’s more of a tapering than a retirement,” explains Torto, 72, who is currently teaching classes at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and speaking at a number of industry events in the coming months, including the Sun Trust and Wellington Management Luncheon for REIT Investors, this week.

Torto is also editing an updated version of Market Analysis for Real Estate by the late Rena Mourouzi-Sivitanidou, a friend and former professor at the University of Southern California. After her passing, Rena’s husband Petros, as editor, compiled her notes into a 19-chapter text that Torto uses in his class. Now Torto is working with Petros as co-editor of the second edition to update the book.

“For Petros, this is a love story and a labor of love, and I am happy to be able to assist him,” Torto says.

Torto’s stint in front of the classroom is a familiar one; he began his career as a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts in 1970, shortly after graduating with a Ph.D. in economics from Boston College. During his long tenure at UMass (1970–1994) that included being appointed Department Chairman and Director of the Public Policy Institute for the university, Torto became a government official for the City of Boston, working as a special assistant to the mayor for tax policy and then as Commissioner of Assessing.

In 1982, Torto teamed with MIT-colleague Bill Wheaton to form Torto Wheaton Research, a leading commercial real estate research firm at a time when very few existed, and the market had very little transparency.

“There was a lot less market information available at that time in the early 1980s, and as more has become available it has brought in investors from around the world,” Torto says. “I’m glad that we’ve been able to help push the market that direction, i.e. more transparency and analysis.”

Torto stayed with TWR though its acquisition by CBRE in 2009, at which point it was renamed CBRE Econometric Advisors. Bill Wheaton also came over to CBRE Econometric Advisors, and remains with the team to this day.

Torto has written four books in his career, including The rich get richer and the rest pay taxes: A Massachusetts tax primer (1974) and Money and the Financial System: Theory, Institutions and Policy (1980), and formerly served as treasurer, vice chairman and chairman of the Pension Real Estate Association and as a director of the PREA board. Despite his many accomplishments, it was Torto’s colleagues that left the biggest impression on him through the years.

“My favorite part/memory about the industry has certainly been the many people I’ve worked with over the years, at Torto Wheaton, at CBRE, really everywhere I’ve worked,” Torto concludes.

Speaking with industry professionals, it is clear that affection goes both ways.

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