San Francisco Business Times
Today, Rofo (which stands for “right of first offer,” http://www.rofo.com) has officially unveiled the Bay Area’s first free, interactive online marketplace dedicated to brokers, landlords and tenants of commercial real estate. The company, which launched a beta version earlier this summer has not only created a site that aggregates commercial listings throughout 100 cities in the Bay Area, but also offers engaging and empowering community features designed to lighten the burden of finding the perfect space, especially for the time-strapped entrepreneur, small-business owner or retailer.
“We know from experience that time is the enemy and whether you are an entrepreneur, an established retail business, or a Mom & Pop looking to expand, finding the right spot is critical,” said Alan Bernier, Rofo co-founder along with Garrett Krueger, both former commercial real estate brokers. “And it’s not just about location. Finding the right SIZE space for the right rent with the right attributes is critical to making it all work, especially in the early days.” (http://www.rofo.com/pages/team.html)
Rofo specializes in commercial real estate “for the rest of us” — the smaller (less than 5,000 square feet) listing. The company’s mission is to simplify the process so tenants can make better-informed decisions. Rofo is free and streamlines the entire process by bringing brokers and landlords together with qualified tenants.
Visitors to the site can become Rofo members, allowing them to search all listings or post their own office space needs to receive new space ideas from other members. Members can read property reviews or provide their own, compare their rent with the Rofometer (http://www.rofo.com/rofometer), and connect with others who can share valuable information. Rofo brings in photos, maps and lists neighborhood amenities as well as provides reviews for each listing to help Rofo members evaluate spaces. Yelp reviews are also integrated into each search listing to provide even more in-depth information.
FINDING THE RIGHT SIZE
According to Reis, Inc., a 25-year old provider of impartial commercial real estate performance information and analysis at the metro (city), submarket (neighborhood), and property level, the under 5,000-square foot market is woefully underserved. It has traditionally been an area of frustration especially for brokers needing to spend time on more lucrative, usually larger, deals.
“I can safely say that after more than 30 years in commercial real estate, I don’t know how to lease small space! It’s completely hit or miss for brokers as well as tenants. Rofo helps systemize it, remove the veil of mystery, fill in the gaps to create a better-informed clientele,” said Steve Meckfessel, principal of SRM Associates, a commercial real estate development firm inOakland, CA.
Meckfessel, who also guest lectures on real estate at UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, added, “Rofo is bringing solid innovation to a business long overdue for the efficiencies and excitement of the Internet.”
MANAGING THE MOVE
While finding the perfect space to lease is hard enough, getting moved in presents its own set of challenges. The site features an Advice section bringing together experts such as lawyers, accountants, movers, electricians, builders, and information technology experts. This section helps facilitate the move-in by educating and providing direct access to relevant information. Here members can find advice such as “25 Lease Terms to Watch Out For,” “Sample Letter of Intent,” “Hiring a Broker,” “Going Green.”
In addition, Rofo also has established business relationships with key players necessary for successful leasing transactions such as lawyers, commercial insurance providers, real estate brokers, and project managers. This provides a powerful environment for tenants to access a wealth of information in one location.
Founded in 2007 and based inSan Francisco, Rofo (http://www.rofo.com) is a free, easy-to-use online service for commercial real estate brokers, landlords and tenants looking for smaller (under 5,000 square feet) space to lease. The company was founded by two former commercial real estate brokers who have combined their love of technology with their real estate acumen. Valued data partners include First American Title Company, Yelp, the top Bay Area brokerage firms and institutional landlords like Hines.