During his 12-year National Football League career, Elvis Dumervil tackled his way to success with teams like the Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers. He signed four multimillion-dollar contracts — but he knew the money and the profession wouldn’t last forever.
“I knew football was a great opportunity, but I knew it was a job, not a career – there’s a big difference,” Dumervil said. “A career is something you do for life. Football, unfortunately, when you get too old, you can’t play the young man’s sport.”
As his football career began winding down in 2015, Dumervil began transitioning into real estate, buying a small multifamily building in Fort Lauderdale. Today, he’s busy establishing a firm footing in South Florida’s real estate game. Dumervil has amassed a portfolio of more than 700 multifamily units, mostly concentrated in North Miami and North Miami Beach, since forming his property management and investment firm Prestige Estates in 2016.
His company focuses on buying and renovating apartment complexes. It’s currently in the midst of completing a two-story multifamily building called Prestige Waterfront, which required a full gut-renovation of its interiors.
“It’s probably the closest I’ve come to development,” Dumervil said.
Rents at his properties range from $1,200 for a one-bedroom to $2,000 for a three-bedroom apartment. Each complex features royal blue doors – a signature of his firm’s projects.
Dumervil, a former defensive linebacker, joins a number of athletes who have moved on to real estate. Though some have become brokers, others like basketball legend Magic Johnson and Maurice “Mo” Vaughn, who founded the real estate company Omni New York in 2003, have entered the investment and development business.
The Real Deal interviewed Dumervil at his office at 14050 Northeast Sixth Avenue in North Miami. The interview has been condensed for space.
What was your childhood like?
It was different, but sometimes different is OK. Single mom. Youngest of four. Father separated from us when I was three. From there, my mom would work a couple of jobs. It was a great childhood, but we moved around a lot. I lived in Little Haiti, Liberty City, Opa-Locka and different parts of Miami. But we got better every time we moved. That’s where I learned what progress meant.
I know you had a very successful football career, but at what point did you decide to start saving up money to get into real estate?
I remember my first three years in the NFL I was going in debt. In the real world it’s serious money, but when you’re trying to take care of your family and live the lifestyle of an eight-year veteran… I just didn’t know.
Right before the 2009 season, near the end of my third year of a four-year contract, I remember thinking this is my opportunity to get into the big leagues. I went on having my best year ever. I was rewarded a huge contract [$61.5 million, according to spotrac.com] from the Broncos’ owner, and I thought what will I do differently?
Did you have an idea it was going to be real estate?
I always loved Monopoly. I was very competitive. It wasn’t until in Baltimore, around 2014, when I hurt my Achilles — I was out for a year — and I said let me start investing.
You signed four contracts totaling $97.5 million — how much did you save? And how did you start?
Throughout my entire career, I probably saved 80 to 85 percent of it.
I started with a little house that went well. Then I bought a little 37-unit apartment building in Fort Lauderdale that went really bad.
What did you learn about your Fort Lauderdale experience?
I learned it’s hard to manage if you’re not prepared. I had no clue what I was doing. I thought you get your building, just like Monopoly, but Monopoly didn’t teach me you actually have to go in there and do maintenance work. It’s not just about collecting rent. Now you’re dealing with lenders and most importantly people’s livelihoods. It’s one of the reasons why every building that I ever buy – all of them – the first thing we do is put in new windows and A/C.
Is there some sort of crossover between football and real estate?
Real estate is kind of like football, there are so many moving parts. Everybody has their own responsibility, their own jobs, but we all need each other.
And like football, the numbers don’t lie. Either you occupy or don’t. In the NFL you win or lose. Your record is what you are. You can’t say you’re great management with only 80 percent occupancy. The truth is in the pudding, so for me I love the rawness about it. You can’t hide in this business.
Why did you begin investing in North Miami and North Miami Beach?
I always believed in building right in your own backyard. That’s why I say I was blessed to have grown up in Miami and not somewhere like Kansas.
I think people that originally started in North Miami in the 60’s and 70’s were brilliant. The buildings, the architecture of North Miami is beautiful and different. The problem that I think happened was the next generation came in and somehow that vision got lost. And when you don’t [invest] into the building, then people come in and they treat it as such. Now I’m here to say how can we get it back to the original vision.