The former CEO of one the world’s largest commercial real estate firms is financing a new online auction platform for nontraded REITs.

Ray Wirta, former CEO and a current director of CBRE (CB Richard Ellis), headquartered in Los Angeles, is financing the new site, The site was started by a team of senior real estate executives led by William Lange, who has more than 35 years of experience in real estate auction marketing and is chairman of the LFC Group of Companies, a pioneer in online auctions.

Nontraded REITs, which are publicly registered but not publicly traded, have issued nearly $80 billion of equity during the past decade to more than 2 million shareholders, a number that is projected to rise over the next few years, REITbid says.

REITbid matches buyers and sellers of shares in existing nontraded REITs, which may offer high dividends but are difficult to cash out of before the issuing company sells assets or lists on an exchange.

REITbid is not the only auction site for nontraded REITs. Central Trade & Transfer, based in Lehi, Utah, has been offering a live, competitive bidding site since early 2011. Static bidding sites exist for nontraded REITs, but they don't display price changes, say Greg Paul of CTT. CTT's auctions generally last three days, although the seller can extend to a seven-day auction. The company has completed 46 auctions this year and has 11 running now.

Sites like those offered by REITbid and CTT may help financial advisory clients sell nontraded REIT holdings and offer a marketplace where they get more back earlier for their shares than they otherwise would have.

According to REITbid, about two-thirds of closed nontraded REITs are unable to meet liquidity demands from shareholders, and investors wanting to sell shares often turn to low-ball mini-tender offers from predatory lending firms.

The team that founded REITbid, owned by Share Trading Associates in Newport Beach, Calif., created the online auction site in response to demand in the industry for a viable solution to achieve fairly priced liquidity in nontraded REIT shares.

The site offers information for buyers that includes a nontraded REIT’s original share price; published NAV, dividend and funds from operation (FFO); recent trading prices; balance sheet data and more. Auctions are open for bidding for 14 days.