How Do Pro Athletes Handle Their Real Estate Needs?

Did you ever wonder who handles real estate needs for a professional athlete when they get cut, traded or demoted? Sometimes they seek professional help and sometimes — in the case of Arizona Diamondbacks utilityman Ryan Roberts (pictured) — they take matters in their own hands and choose to live in the clubhouse. Seriously.

“You just couldn’t let anybody see you,” Roberts said. “After the game, I’d sit on the couch in my uni (uniform) until Bugsy (Reno  manager Brett Butler) would leave, so everybody would think I was just hanging out. Then I’d shower up and hang out with the cleaning crew.”

Maybe Ryan was just trying to save a buck or two, but there really are people who handle real estate for professional athletes. One guy is Chris Dingman (The Dingman Group), whose business is a “…boutique powerhouse that buys, sells and leases real estate for professional athletes and coaches nationwide.”

Here’s a Q&A with Dingman about his niche real estate business:

How did you get into this business?
Since childhood, sports have defined my path in life. Along my path, I developed personal relationships with pro athletes and coaches. The nomadic lifestyle they live can only be rivaled by the military. I recognized a void and major lack of resources for athletes, coaches and families when faced with a move and created my company. Our mission is to ensure they maintain balance in their daily lives during the relocation process.

Who are some of some of the athletes that you handle?
Our client pool is every professional athlete and coach across every major professional sport (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, and MLS). A select few clients of ours are NFL Pro Bowler Steve Smith of the Carolina Panthers, MLB All Star Bobby Abreu of the LA Angels, NHL All Star Chris Pronger of the Philadelphia Flyers and dozens of other athletes and coaches whose relocations have all been equally important.

When you hear of an athlete being traded, what’s the first thing you do? Do they call you or do you call their agents/lawyers?
Once word is received of their trade, they personally call us or their advisers call for education, support and next-step information. A trade can create all or one of the following needs: A home sale, house hold goods shipment, vehicle transport and home purchase or lease. Each athlete’s circumstances are unique.

How do you choose the neighborhoods where you search for homes for athletes?
Our nationwide network of pro sports realtors have been referred to us by athletes and coaches who’ve had a positive experience utilizing their expertise during a real estate transaction (i.e. home purchase or sale). This means, they have first-hand knowledge of the neighborhoods or areas where athletes are living or trending to live. Websites such as Zillow help our PSR’s and clients understand the real estate climate in every city throughout the nation.

If an athlete is traded to another team and he loses on his home sale, is he compensated for the loss?
In the NFL they can be. It would have to be discussed and agreed upon by player/agent and team at the time of contract. In baseball, the collective bargaining agreement states a team must sub-lease or take over the remaining terms of a lease if a player is traded or waived. A very specific process must be followed in order to get the team to do this. It’s real tricky sometimes.

The safe answer to the question is probably “it can be…if negotiated up front at contract.”

Once you handle a transaction for an athlete, do you usually handle repeat situations for that athlete?
100% of pro athletes within every major sport will need real estate and relocation services at one point or another during their career. Having a company that streamlines the process for athletes and their advisers is a fairly new niche. A lot of education, relationship-building and trust need to take place. In most every case, athletes use us multiple times per year or during their career. Whether it’s buying a home or packing up a house full of goods we pride ourselves on honest, long-lasting client relationships.

What skills and qualities would you say you need to do this type of job?
Pro athletes and their advisers communicate in very non-traditional ways. The sports world is a very closed-off-to-the-outside-world kind of place. It takes honesty, wit, fortitude, perseverance, and marketing savvy to break into this space and have a big impact. If you don’t have this stuff it’s going to be tough.

Is it glamorous, or not so much?
At first I wasn’t so sure my work would be best described by the word glamorous. So, I looked it up. The definition is:  full of excitement, adventure, and unusual activity. It’s DEFINITELY glamorous!

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