The Real Deal Los Angeles

Zac Diles uses NFL connections as a new Rodeo Realty agent

Former Browns and Rams linebacker joined luxury brokerage this month

August 25, 2016 02:30PM
By Laurie Dove

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NFL veteran Zac Diles, now of Rodeo Realty (courtesy of Zac Diles)

NFL veteran Zac Diles, now of Rodeo Realty (courtesy of Zac Diles)

Eight-year NFL veteran Zac Diles is heading into a new season opener, this time as a real estate agent with Rodeo Realty.

Diles joined the brokerage earlier this month. Much of his business is focused on the insight he can provide professional athletes through his own experience. He made many moves during his NFL career with the Houston Texans, the then-St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs and, ultimately, the Cleveland Browns. Those moves necessitated a lot of real estate transactions.

“I’m a great fit because I’ve lived it,” Diles told TRD, “I understand the athlete and that moving can be a headache at some point. It’s a process you like to get done as fast and smooth as possible, whether you’re leasing, buying or selling.”

In March, Diles helped locate a home for his former Cleveland Browns teammate, Joe Haden. The defensive back bought a $4.3 million custom home in Encino. Brian Whitcanack of Keller Williams Realty represented Haden and Ada Livyatan of Rodeo Realty was the listing agent, but Diles said his assist helped catapult him “into the stratosphere of luxury residential.”

The deal, Diles said, will place Haden and his family in Encino during the off-season. Haden is in the third year of a five-year contract extension of $67.5 million. “It was a nice timing. His wife is pregnant and about to have a baby so they’ll have a home for their family,” Diles said. “It’s a great feeling to put them in a good situation.”

And with the Los Angeles Rams making a move from St. Louis, Diles is positioned well. As The Real Deal reported, the entrée of the roughly 100 people in the Rams organization could bring up to $400 million into LA’s residential market, according to some industry insiders. The relocation may, however, cause some sticker shock.

The most recent data of the National Association of Realtors ranks L.A. as the sixth priciest housing market in the country, with a median residential price just north of $500,000. Comparable homes in St. Louis cost about $160,000. Players won’t get much bang for that kind of buck in La La Land. They may be more comfortable leasing, shelling out bigger bucks for a shorter term.

The lease vs. buy dilemma is something to consider in a field measured by uncertainty, whether from performance or injury.

“There’s such a turnaround rate in football, you never know when you’ll need to sell your home and get some money out of it,” said Diles, who attended Kansas State University before being drafted by the Houston Texans in 2007.  “You never know. Our contracts aren’t guaranteed.”

The same consideration Diles puts into his efforts to track a home’s worth over time also holds true for leases, which may require quick-release if a player’s career pivots.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the average rent for a three-bedroom property in LA is $2,176. And few professional athletes are looking for average.

“The younger athletes are leasing for sure,” Diles said. “Their dollar isn’t going to stretch as far here as it did in St. Louis. They’re not as established or maybe they were a third- or fourth-round pick making $450,000, not $3 million. Not everybody can afford the same types of home. The guys who can afford it will want a newer, modern-looking house. The type of house that they can walk in and know this is what they’ve been working for.”

Because players like to live near their practice fields — in this case, Thousand Oaks — Diles expects the Rams to spread out around that area. “This is definitely an exciting time for Westlake, Agoura and Thousand Oaks,” he said.

While Diles’ sphere of influence consists primarily of professional athletes, he’s quick to assert his services are ideal for all types of professionals, from physicians and lawyers to self-made entrepreneurs.

“I don’t want to typecast myself as being in sports entertainment only,” he said. “I relate to all professionals who have worked hard to get to that level and worked hard to sustain that level.”

He became interested in real estate during his third year in the NFL.

“I was around wealthy individuals and teammates, and I was so enamored with their homes,” Diles said. “I’d always wonder, ‘How did they find this? Who sold this to them?’ Real estate really piqued my interest.”