Taking out magazine ads or being the official Realtor® for sports organizations won’t capture this market, says Ben Moss, the national director of the Sports & Entertainment Division at Compass. Instead of attracting players, these strategies will draw fans, he explains. “Players don’t pay attention to fancy websites or names splashed on the seatbacks at stadiums and arenas.” To get in front of the right people, he and his team of 132 agents rely on these effective tactics:
- Befriending athletes will help you break in: In college at the University of Miami, Moss was friends with several football players who were drafted. “They knew me as a real estate person and started asking me for help,” he recalls. The rest is history.
- Get in with the gatekeepers: In the sports world, reach out to financial advisors, who are most involved with real estate transactions. Also try to connect with sports agents, who wield a lot of influence with players. In the entertainment space, focus on business managers. To make these connections, Moss has been known to cold-call targets for up to 10 years and to travel to meet them. Once, he flew from Florida to Nashville to take a top football sports agent out to dinner. The sports agent was searching for a short-term rental. Between the flight and meal, he spent about $1,500— well worth it, in his opinion.
- Send DMs: “One [real estate professional] I know sends DMs on Instagram to players when they get traded. Players are all on social media—they’re addicted to their phones just like everyone else.”
- Sponsor celebrity-attended events: “To get direct access to players, spend $5,000- $10,000 to sponsor a celebrity golf or basketball tournament,” he recommends. Also attend industry events, like the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl. Find out where players are staying, and hang out in those hotel lobbies, he suggests.
- Don’t act star-struck: “Don’t say, ‘I love you’ and ask for a selfie. Instead, be respectful and treat celebrities like regular people,” says Moss.
- Let clients be the stars: “Try not to be obnoxious or self-promotional,” counsels Moss. If you’re a flashy, name-dropping [real estate agent], you won’t earn the trust of gatekeepers, he says. “I’ve worked with hundreds of professional athletes and only asked a few for testimonials. Gatekeepers don’t want their clients working with people who want to be the stars.”
- Educate players as young as their teens: Decide how you can add value for clients, says Moss. For him, that means educating players on the pro and collegiate levels about real estate. “A lot of athletes want to invest in real estate—and their financial advisors and agents are not bringing those types of deals to them.” Now that collegiate athletes are making money, Moss suggests beginning this approach early on. Play the long game by reaching out to high school players via their coaches. Within three or four years, many will buy real estate in local markets.