REIT Industry Veteran Ralph Block Dies

Ralph Block, a leading authority on REITs and an active participant in the industry for several decades, died on Sept. 6.

Block was the author of the book “Investing in REITs,” now in its fourth edition. He also authored The Essential REIT, a newsletter dedicated to REITs and REIT investing. In addition, Block was a regular contributor to REIT magazine, and he wrote weekly blog posts on REIT investing for SNL Financial.

NAREIT President and CEO Steve Wechsler noted that Block served “as one of the REIT industry’s most eloquent, insightful and wise proponents” over the span of four decades.

“He helped explain the REIT approach to real estate investment with clarity and wit to one and all. NAREIT recognized Ralph for his many contributions with its REIT Industry Achievement Award in 2004. His warmth, knowledge and service to our community will be sorely missed, but long remembered,” Wechsler said.

Milton Cooper, executive chairman of Kimco Realty Corp. (NYSE: KIM), credited Block with being “an early enthusiast for REITs.” According to Cooper, Block urged Kimco to become a public company—a decision that is widely considered to have touched off the Modern REIT Era in the early 1990s.

Block “had a wonderful sense of humor, enjoyed reading and, of course, enjoyed writing,” Cooper said. “I will very much miss his friendship, wisdom and wit.”

Block began investing in REIT stocks in the 1970s, and he held a variety of professional investment and advisory positions in the industry from 1993 onwards.

From 1993 through 2003, Block was chief REIT portfolio manager with Bay Isle Financial LLC, a San Francisco investment advisory firm. He served as co-portfolio manager for Undiscovered Managers REIT Fund from 1998 to 2003.

He was also a principal and senior REIT portfolio manager for Phocas Financial Corp., an investment advisory firm, until 2005. He was also the owner and proprietor of Essential REIT Publishing Company, an independent advisor to the REIT industry and its investors and publisher of information for the industry.

Block practiced corporate and securities law in Los Angeles for 27 years before focusing on REITs. He graduated from UCLA and the UCLA School of Law, where he was on the board of editors of the UCLA Law Review.