Engel & Völkers Intelligence

Professional Athlete Advisory

Delivering the signature services and solutions you need discreetly and beyond the transaction.

From frenetic training and travel schedules, to last-minute relocations after a trade, the lives of professional athletes move at a much faster pace than most people can imagine. As a result, these players and their families rely on a strong support team who can provide specialty services with discretion.

When faced with a move, athletes and their families need an advisor who can help them get established in a new community, quickly, or who can take on the listing when they relocate.

These transactions are often less traditional and require the real estate professional to take on various roles, including as a local concierge, project manager, investment guide and more. Depending on the day, the advisor may be managing repairs and onsite work or providing a detailed analysis to the player's finance team.

At Engel & Völkers, the Private Office advisors who specialize in Professional Athlete Advisory understand all of the nuances and demands of this lifestyle. Some of our advisors have experienced the professional athlete lifestyle personally, while others are simply the “go-to” local resource after years of working with players, coaches and staff.

Professional athletes are the first to admit that their lives are anything but typical. Our advisors diligently work with their best interests at heart, and confidentiality in mind, as they guide their real estate transactions and support their transitions and investments.

Bridgette Hager

“It can take up to two years for the average person to feel like a new city is home,” says Bridgette Hager. But when you’re a professional athlete who may get traded from city to city, you may not have the luxury of time to plan your move or settle in.

Hager first came to realize this when she and her four children moved in service to her husband’s career as a professional linebacker in the NFL. After his retirement, the Hager family settled in Austin, where Bridgette returned to her previous career in real estate. Years later, she experienced the NFL lifestyle again, when her son Bryce was drafted as a linebacker; he went on to play professionally for six seasons.

In her role as both a wife and mother to NFL players, Bridgette said the priority was always “to feel at home. As a wife, I relied a lot on other player’s wives. The days were long and we spent them together, raising kids and sharing resources — the best schools, pediatricians, dentists, everything you need to know when you’re raising children in a new place.”

In working with professional athletes today, Bridgette continues to be a trusted source of information for players and their families. Because she knows what their lives can be like, she delves deeper into what the family needs, outside of housing, to get settled in. Recently, she worked with an athlete whose wife was expecting a baby. “In addition to a house, they needed a designer, a contractor, doctors for her, babysitters, someone to help them really set up their entire new life here. I helped them establish every contact and relationship they needed, at a very stressful time.”

When asked how her years as an NFL wife and mother help her to better serve families of professional players, Brigette says, “These are people who are faced with a lot of outsiders trying to grab their coattails and get recognition. And my work, it’s anything but that. I’m discreet, I know how to help them find the resources they need, and I’m not going to be another somebody grabbing for money or attention.”

Bridgette is also set out to prove that football is not the Hagers’ only family business. After his retirement from the NFL, her son Bryce became licensed and is now an advisor with Engel & Völkers. “I followed my dad to the NFL, and now I’m following my mom’s career path in real estate,” Bryce says.

A natural competitor, Bryce admits that the current state of the real estate market is appealing to him. “When someone loves a house, and I can help them get an accepted offer, that excitement really brings me back to the mentality of game days. I wasn’t expecting it to feel so gratifying, but winning a bid for my clients is just as exciting as a win on the field.”

Together, Bridgette and Bryce work with Michele Turnquist, the owner of the Engel & Völkers Austin shop, which Bridgette calls “the perfect home” for their practice. In recent years, the team has represented dozens of current and former players, NFL coaching and training staff, as well as athletes from other sports.

“Austin has a large base of professional athletes, both active and retired,” says Bridgette. “It feels like resort living — there’s the lakes, live music, great food. I’ve found that it attracts football and baseball players, Olympic athletes, and even golfers because of our training facilities, trainers and fantastic culture.”

Jim Bruske

As a Major League Baseball pitcher, Jim Bruske not-so-fondly remembers, “One season, I got traded three times. My wife said, ‘That’s it, I’m taking the kids and going home.’” Cognizant of how often players can get a call in the middle of the night and be on a plane the next day, Bruske now works to help professional athletes establish the right residence for their families.

“It can be really hard on the families, this lifestyle. I never blame anyone when they decide that the family might need to set up a homebase that’s in a different place than the player’s current city.”

Now working with clients in Scottsdale and the surrounding areas, Bruske has represented players from the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Arizona Cardinals, as well as athletes wishing to set up their off-season or retirement residence. For those still actively playing, Bruske takes on the role of a full-service concierge.

“Players are extremely busy people, and they don’t always maintain their homes,” said Bruske. “So when I do the walkthrough, I plan out what work needs to be done prior to the listing going live. We may need contractors, painters, new carpet, landscaping, the stuff that a more typical homeowner has time to pay attention to.”

To minimize the distraction to the player, Bruske often pays for these updates out-of-pocket and recoups the amount through the player’s financial team. In a recent transaction, Bruske listed the home of a New York Yankees player.

“It had been a beautiful house, it actually had previously belonged to Larry Fitzgerald. But it needed some love. In under three weeks, we took over the property, cleaned up everything from the windows to the landscaping to the carpets and sold it. He then hired me to help him buy another house in the off-season.”

Not everyone would understand that professional athletes don’t have the ability to keep their home in pristine condition, says Bruske. “As a former player, I get it. And so I walk in and I tell them, I’ve got this. Very often, that’s all they need to hear.”

Lewis Ratliff

Following his retirement from the National Lacrosse League, Lewis Ratliff settled in Victoria, British Columbia. In the years since, he has worked with buyers and sellers of all kinds, including many NHL players looking to establish a Canadian residence.

While representing these athletes, Ratliff has come to recognize his elevated role in the transaction. “For players who are mid-season, their attention to detail is just not going to be there. They are training, traveling and totally focused on game day. So as silly as it sounds, even if they are purchasing a multi-million dollar property, the paperwork and contract details are just not always a priority.”

Aware of the trust these athletes have put in him, the always-conscientious Ratliff pores over the contract details even more than in a typical transaction. He also works closely with the players’ team, including their lawyers or financial advisors. “Players are often reliant on the right people to give them the right advice, and I’m one resource they can turn to as they seek to buy or sell,” Ratliff said.

In a recent transaction, Ratliff represented the buyer of a large plot of land — perfect for a small residential development — in Victoria. The land’s previous owner was an NHL player, whom Ratliff had been communicating with for years. “The player had inherited the land from his father, but it was saddled with some debt. I’ve spoken on and off throughout the years to come to terms with a deal that would be advantageous for him, and with today’s market conditions, it was finally the right time.”

With Ratliff’s understanding of the player’s lifestyle, communication style and even the seller’s financial situation, he was able to ink a deal that benefitted both parties. “It was a fulfilling transaction, and I know that everyone walked away feeling the same.”

Roxann Taylor

For private office advisor Roxann Taylor, whose latest of five Dallas shops is located in the Cowboys headquarters and practice facility known as The Star, working with professional athletes is all about proximity, discretion and trust.

Taylor first began working with sports figures more than 20 years ago when she moved her real estate business from a military market in North Carolina to the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex. Early on she recognized that many of the clients she worked with were professional athletes -- whether from the Mavericks, the Rangers, the Stars or the Cowboys. Over the years Taylor’s ties to the players, their wives and their families have deepened, not just from helping them purchase or move from one home to another, but also through her involvement in numerous local charitable events and organizations.

“In working with athletes and their families, I realized that they often want their kids to have roots and be established in schools. Because Dallas Fort Worth is a central location, the families often stay here even if the player is traded to another team.”

And while Taylor has worked with dozens of professional athletes, she’s tight-lipped about who she’s helped get to the closing table. For me, my reputation is as a first-class and completely confidential resource. I tell my clients, ‘Our transaction will be totally confidential, I’m never going to repeat anything unless you authorize me to.’”

As a result, Taylor says, “I’m often given the keys and the code to the house and told, ‘Great, you take care of it.’”

Taylor’s desire to handle things for her clients doesn’t only extend to her clients’ local properties. After speaking with one athlete about selling his home in Dallas, he mentioned that he also had a home for sale in another state — one that had been on the market for five years. Knowing that the listing agent for that property must not be representing him properly, Taylor offered to fly down to take a look.

“Once I got there, I located the agent, got access to the house and found that it had been damaged by flooding. It also wasn’t listed on the MLS. I helped them file an insurance claim and find a different agent, and I flew back there three times to make sure that they were being represented properly.”

The client didn’t ask Taylor to do all of that, specifically, she admits, but “He did ask me to take care of it. He asked me to get it done. That’s what I’ve built my reputation on, making things happen for my clients. Whether they need stagers, interior decorators, bankers, or other kinds of help, I take care of everybody and make sure they know there’s someone in their corner.”

And when it comes to special teams, Taylor is building one of her own in Dallas. In February she brought on Nick Ralston, a Dallas Cowboys fullback who became licensed with Engel & Völkers in his off-season. To get to Engel & Völkers Frisco, Taylor’s shop within The Star, Ralston can just take the elevator to the third floor after practice.

“I’m a hustler,” Ralston says to explain his (somewhat unusual) dual career path. “I’m the type that always has to be doing something, always has to be working toward a goal.”  

In addition to training for next season in the Star, Ralston is representing clients, including his professional network of teammates, coaching and training staff. He recently worked with a Cowboys punter, showing him upwards of 20 homes and ultimately winning a bidding war in the ultra-competitive Dallas market.

“It’s hard to describe the connection you have when you’re on a team like the Cowboys," he said. "These men are more than my teammates, they’re my brothers. I’m excited that with my path in real estate, I’ll be able to have their backs on and off the field."

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