How to sell a home to Philly’s discerning sports stars

Phillies and Eagles are everywhere, Flyers love the city and South Jersey… The Sixers? Short-term rentals.

The rooftop view from the Griffin, where John Bolaris said some Flyers players are planning to live this year.

The rooftop view from the Griffin, where John Bolaris said some Flyers players are planning to live this year.

Instagram via @GriffinCenterCity

John Bolaris says he already has a few Flyers lined up to live at the Griffin, a new apartment complex near Broad and Chestnut streets. There’s plenty of perks: Roof deck, outdoor lounge, virtual reality golf system.  

“The real factor,” he said, “is they can just get room service from Capital Grill that just delivers to your room.”

According to Bolaris, who left the meteorology business for real estate, the younger Flyers are choosing to live in the city these days. Billy Penn talked with him and another area realtor who works frequently with athletes, Beth Samberg, and found out what Philly pro athletes are generally looking for in real estate and where they’re likely to live.  

The Phillies and Eagles? Kind of all over the place. Many of them, especially with those with big contracts, are in the suburbs, but some have bought in the city. As for the Sixers, the team that pretty much churns through an entirely new roster every year?

“We do a lot of short-term rentals as opposed to purchases because there’s just no stability on the teams for them,” said Samberg, who works for Keller Williams Main Line Realty. “They don’t know if they’ll still be here in six months.”

When an athlete first arrives in Philadelphia, Bolaris said, they are advised not to buy anything. That usually goes for the entirety of their first contract or at least for a period of about three years.

“When they feel secure,” said Bolaris, who is with The Condo Shop, “then they look to buy.”

Former Phillie Chase Utley, for instance, bought a $2.1M penthouse overlooking Washington Square. A year after signing an eight-year deal with the Flyers, Claude Giroux purchased a $2M condo in Rittenhouse.  

When most people consider renting or purchasing a property, the decision process can last months or longer. Most everything is expedited for athletes. They’re drafted into cities and quickly need a place to stay or get traded or find out weeks before the season starts that they made the final roster.

A real estate agent will email the athlete or an athlete’s handler several options that get whittled down to a few for quick viewings.  

“They’ll pick what they like and then maybe pick a day after practice and look for three hours and make a decision that same day,” Bolaris said. “It’s not shopping.”

Bolaris has noticed athletes tend to like newer properties and prefer places with balconies and large entertainment areas. When one athlete moves into a building, others can often follow, as the team-building continues out of the locker room. 

Samberg said the two biggest things athletes are looking for when they buy or rent are privacy and discretion. They’re used to focusing on their athletic careers and outsourcing most everything else. So Samberg helps find the right experts for routine matters like electricity or more exotic needs like transporting cars and expensive art. Bolaris said he’s paid PECO bills in advance for Flyers players who have had trouble getting accounts because they’re from abroad.

Many athletes like to live close to work. With practice facilities by or at the stadiums in South Philly, the Phillies and Eagles are bound to live anywhere. Samberg said she’s had clients live as far away as New Hope and West Chester. For the Flyers, the base is South Jersey and for the Sixers, the Main Line, where they practice at the nearby Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine until the new facility is complete in Camden.   

When work isn’t happening — in the offseason — they like to get away. Many Flyers have homes in Europe or Canada. The Eagles go down the shore these last few weeks before training camp, often renting in Avalon and Ocean City, N.J.

“They’ll have some fun,” Bolaris said, “right through the Fourth of July.”

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