UNITED STATES - Teacher Retirement System of Texas is looking to grow its real estate staff as it mover closer to its 10% allocation for real estate.

The pension fund has already grown its in-house staff from two to nine people over the past three years, and is looking now for additional staff members.

This is being done because although the fund still has a long way to go before it reaches its targeted real estate allocation. - through the end of October it had invested $1.2bn (€818m) in real estate - it needs more people to look at additional investment opportunities.

As a result, the pension fund also now has given staff investment discretion to make real estate investment decisions on its own without board approval for investments of up to $500m.

Eric Lang , acting managing director for the real assets category, which covers investing in real estate, worked with Texas Teachers between 1995 and 1999 but rejoined the pension fund last year after spending seven years with real estate investment manager Kennedy Wilson Austin in Austin, Texas.

Drew Maxwell is also a key figure at the fund as principal in the real assets department, and having been with Texas Teachers since 1973, was involved in the real estate program when the pension fund had an active investment program from 1990 to 2000.

Employees joining the real estate arena are expected to receive specialized training through both internal and external sources on subjects such as investment process, investment markets, investment vehicles, due diligence, technological resources and trade association involvement.

At the same time as its search for additional staff, the existing Texas Teachers team is now looking at several new investments in real estate funds, including the Five Arrows Realty Securities V and Prudential Latin America Residential Fund III.