By Jim Gehman, Player Engagement Insider
As teammates with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012, outside linebacker/defensive end Jason Babin and linebacker Kyle Bosworth discovered they had more in common than just football – real estate.
“We started talking about what we do individually and we kind of looked at each other and had almost like an aha moment,” said Babin, a 12-year veteran and two-time Pro Bowler. “We’re like, ‘Well, you know what we should do.’ We were on the same page.”
After their playing days, each made their home in Jacksonville, and late last year they became partners and founded the RedZone Realty Group. The firm is involved in property sales and rentals as well as renovations. It may be a relatively new business; However, it’s in a field that they each have a great deal of experience in.
“My father was an electrical contractor and he kind of dabbled with development,” Babin said. “He was old-school and made me learn how to do everything from framing to roofing to concrete to electrical. So, I’ve always had a passion for it and I enjoy it.
“Before I met Kyle, I was involved with planned communities and I started building spec homes and flipping houses. I knew that was something that I wanted to do, but couldn’t quite do it to this extreme until I was retired (from the NFL). So, the timing just worked out perfectly because I was ready to start going and so was Kyle.”
“I already had my (real estate) license in Texas,” said Bosworth, a four-year veteran. “After I was done playing, I started flipping houses and helping out people I knew, because I was in Dallas my last year (in the league), and that’s where I’m from.
“And when I moved to Jacksonville, I was already in it and obviously wanted to get my license here. And I knew that Jason had a very heavy background in construction and home improvement, so the knowledge that he brought to the table along with my current knowledge of markets and the real estate aspect of it, not necessarily the builder aspect of it, we were like two aspects that were an easy shoo-in to make a business model.”
Besides the public who may recognize their names, Babin and Bosworth have an advantage by having their business in Jacksonville – the Jaguars players and coaches who know them, trust them, and respect them as one of their own.
“Jacksonville’s one of the biggest (real estate) markets in the country right now,” Bosworth said. “It’s a huge advantage because there’s no state income tax. And with both of us being here, they have that trust. They want to have their residence here and we help them out.”
“I think the guys in the front office at the stadium, and other teams for that matter, they really appreciate our approach,” Babin said. “Most of the guys, and a lot of the coaches, call us for their needs. We have everything from furnished apartments to houses, whatever they need. We try and do our very best not to let them get into bad situations because we played football and we know how volatile the game is.
“Some guys say, ‘I want to buy this big house.’ We say, ‘Listen, you’re a Draft pick, you just got here, let’s take our time. Let’s figure this out. Where a normal real estate agent would just only care about the sale. We put the athletes first, and we take care of whatever they need – helping them align movers, to moving cars, to helping them with schools and babysitters and cleaning ladies, the entire gamut.”
Adds Bosworth. “When you’ve been in the locker room as long as we have cumulatively, you earn a sense of trust, for sure.”
Babin and Bosworth offer advice, as well. Aware that an average NFL player’s career isn’t as long as some would hope, they talk with their clients about using property investments as part of their game plan for when the game is over.
“We have guys that are retired and some that are still playing that are always saying to me and Kyle, ‘Hey, hook me up with a rental property,’” Babin said. “What makes us unique is we identify properties that are physically distressed in a good area. So, then we go in and we do a full renovation. Then we put renters in and help them manage it.
“Now they have a large amount of equity in the house if they want to sell it. So, having that full service where we do everything is really beneficial. They get their money every month and everybody loves it.”
“I tell a lot of guys, ‘Around your third year in the league, because the average NFL career is about three years, think about buying an investment property to have that mailbox money, to have that reoccurring income,” Bosworth said. “When I was done playing, I didn’t have a W-2 for that last year. And when I went to go find a house for myself and didn’t want to pay cash, banks don’t like seeing that. That’s a huge red flag.
“So, get something going on to where they can show income to be able to do what they want. To have a house and make that transition out of the NFL a lot easier when they have some money coming in.”
Whether it’s selling renting, managing or renovating, Babin and Bosworth are enjoying their second careers.
“I think the independence is great in the sense that it’s on Kyle and I to succeed,” Babin said. “It’s twofold in the sense that in that scenario, it’s on you, which is something I like as far as I like the ownership of that. And at the same time, there’s no ceiling. So, the better we do, the more we grow. In this, the sky’s the limit. It’s almost like each and every day it’s a fun, unique task.”
“I always go back to my first sale,” Bosworth said. “I did my first flip, I was the listing agent and I had multiple offers within hours over what I was asking for. I felt I was on the opening kickoff. I had a rush. I felt excited, which can be extremely tough. I hadn’t had this excitement, purpose, passion outside of something I’d been doing since I was seven years old.”