This past year has been an amazing year for my business and our team. One of the biggest honors for me during 2018 was that I was asked to join the exclusive Sports & Entertainment Division at Douglas Elliman. As a result, I had the privilege of participating in the NBA Player Development Career Crossover Program.
What is the NBA Player Development Career Crossover Program?
The NBA Player Development Career Crossover Program is an exclusive partnership between the NBA and Douglas Elliman Real Estate that was created to expose NBA players to various businesses and industries outside of basketball. The NBA partnered with Douglas Elliman to show players career options beyond the game of basketball. Many players who “retire” in their late 20’s or early 30’s want a career after basketball. Many former players go into coaching or become media personalities, but what about those players who want to go into business? How many times have you heard a news report about a former athlete that invested his/her money into real estate and lost everything? The NBA crossover program was designed for players to “shadow” top real estate agents at Douglas Elliman in NYC, Florida and California to get a true sense of what it takes to be a top real estate broker.
Michael Light Leads NBA Players on a Tour Through Coconut Grove
This past summer, I had the honor of being one of the few brokers nationwide that was selected to spend an entire day with several players while we toured Coconut Grove, one of the most sought-after communities in South Florida. The players that participated were Sterling Brown, Terrence Jones and Roger Moute. We were also accompanied by Alexys Feaster, the Director of Player Development for the NBA, as well as Rosemarie Laffler, the National Coordinator of the DE S+E Division and Jaimee Light, my wife and business partner.
New Construction Tour with Drive Development LLC
We began the day by meeting with my friend and client Doug Cox, the President of Drive Development LLC, which is the preeminent development firm in Coconut Grove. Doug gave us a private tour of one of the many luxury properties that he has under construction in Center Coconut Grove. This was a unique opportunity for the players to tour a construction site to see the behind-the-scenes action of real estate development and have a one-on-one with a prime developer to gain insight on more than simply buying and selling properties. During our tour of the new construction home, Doug was very thorough in explaining to us what it is like to purchase land, experience the arduous planning and permitting stages of construction, working with architects and designers and the management of multiple construction sites. Doug also explained how he has on-staff graphic artists to assist his firm with creating marketing materials for the benefit of sales.
The players enjoyed the tour of the construction site and were impressed with all of the insight that they gained from talking directly with an experienced developer. I really wanted them to have this experience because a lot of athletes are asked to invest their money in real estate deals, specifically development properties, so this gave them invaluable knowledge to prepare them when they are next presented with a development opportunity.
Tour of a Waterfront Mansion in Coconut Grove
Next, we went on to visit my client’s 12,000 sq/ft waterfront home in Coconut Grove so that I could show them what it is like to tour a luxury property with a potential buyer. So, I treated the players as if they were clients/buyers so they could see that the order in which you show a property is important as well as what you highlight about the property and the overall knowledge you must know about the property, not just how many bedrooms and bathrooms it has. We then went out outside where we discussed all of the amenities including the pool, private beach, incredible views, private boat dock and the launch for watersports. I explained to them how it’s so very important to understand and be able to relate to a client about the importance of the lifestyle of certain properties such as this. In our business, when you are selling waterfront mansions, it is not just about the property itself, it is the luxury lifestyle that you are selling to a client. People outside of real estate usually do not think about this aspect in sales. For instance, I know Coconut Grove inside, out and backwards…I know all the good restaurants, sailing clubs, art festivals, spas, watersports, etc. It is just as important for a broker to know the neighborhood that they are selling as it is the house itself.
Lunch & Learn at Strada in the Grove
After our Coconut Grove waterfront home tour, we all sat down at my favorite Italian restaurant in Coconut Grove, Strada in the Grove, to have a Lunch-and-Learn question and answer session with the players. The players asked me a lot of questions about the day-to-day tasks of our industry and how I get my business (clients). I also explained to them that I am a very tech-savvy broker and explained how I have built multiple real estate websites and how technology has really changed the real estate industry. We also discussed the importance of having a business partner you can trust, and we laughed about the daily life of working with my spouse! The coolest part of this lunch is that I asked them a lot of questions about their backgrounds so that I could give them personalized advice that they could take away and put toward a career in real estate if they so choose in the future.
Tour of Park Grove’s Sales Gallery
After lunch, we finished our day by visiting Park Grove in Coconut Grove. For any of you who don’t know, Park Grove is the greatest condo building ever constructed in Miami, and it happens to be in Coconut Grove. This was a great opportunity to help them understand what it is like to sell something that has not been built yet. We discussed things like the type of marketing efforts/materials we use, to how I “show” a property from a sales gallery instead of a finished property. Selling pre-construction is harder than any other sales because you have to “paint a picture” in a buyer’s mind instead of walking through a finished property. I must have painted an amazing picture for the players because they were all blown away with the project when we finished!
NBA Player Development Career Crossover Program Comes to a Close
We ended our Coconut Grove tour at Park Grove and said our goodbyes, but the very next day we all met up again at Eighty Seven Park in Miami Beach with my Douglas Elliman Sports & Entertainment colleagues, our CEO Jay Parker and our COO Gus Rubio to enjoy a private catered brunch and discuss the NBA players experience of touring the different neighborhoods in South Florida, including our tour in Coconut Grove.
All-in-all, this was an amazing experience. Not trying to sell anything, but actually share my expertise with NBA players was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I am so grateful that I had this opportunity.