SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The California Public Employees' Retirement System's real estate division expects to save as much as $100 million to $200 million in expenses over the next several years, thanks to its investment in PropertyFirst.com, an online commercial real estate listing service.
Guy Jaquier, who runs the $157 billion system's $8 billion real estate portfolio, said in an interview that Sacramento-based CalPERS invested $1.4 million in the listing service because of the efficiencies it expects to reap. "It will reduce the time required for transactions, improve pricing and transparency," Mr. Jaquier said.
PropertyFirst.com brings brokers, buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants together on the Internet. Potential buyers and sellers can view photos of properties, as well as floor plans, financial data, research and maps, searching by location, size, and price.
John Stanfill, president and chief executive officer of the privately held Alhambra, Calif.-based company, said the site has signed up $7 billion worth of real estate investment listings so far. It will add lease (rental) listings in early 2000.
A feature that electronically links buyers and sellers already has made several matches, Mr. Stanfill said. The company, which opened its Web site in June, is not tracking transactions yet. He added the CalPERS' investment has spurred other pension funds and advisers to sign on or to consider doing so.
Mr. Jaquier said that with greater transparency of transactions, there will be more bidders.
PropertyFirst.com, which raised $45 million to seed the business, doesn't expect to generate positive revenue for 18 months, Mr. Stanfill said. But the service is being backed by a number of blue-chip investors from the venture capital world, including Frank Caufield, a partner in Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; Brian Little, a co-founding partner in Forstman Little & Co.; Oak Investment Partners; and Brentwood Venture Capital, whose founding partner B. Kipling Hagopian is chairman.