It may not seem like a smooth transition to go from a professional football player to real estate agent, but for Patrick Venzke, there are a lot of similarities between the two.
“As an offensive lineman, it was my duty to protect my quarterback,” Venzke said. “So, in real estate, I always try to protect my clients; to make sure they get the right house, to get a fair listing price. I think that’s where the carryover is. I like being that protector, to make sure my customer and clients get what they deserve.”
Venzke, manager of the Ponte Vedra Beach office for SVR Realty, was the first German national to play in the NFL and was signed by the Jaguars in 2001. Venzke said he got interested in the real estate field during his days in the NFL, investing in the Jacksonville market even while he was with the Indianapolis Colts.
“I bought my first house in 2004, here in Jacksonville, and got really involved in buying properties,” Venzke said.
He started accumulating properties in the area, renovating them and investing in his rental property business. But then the housing market collapsed.
“I went from, at least by equity on paper, being a multi-millionaire to applying for food stamps,” Venke said.
He said because of his values, he couldn’t bring himself to evict renters who were struggling to pay rent, and was losing around $50,000 a month in rental income.
Venzke ended up relocating to Idaho, where he had attended college and where his wife’s family was from.
“I had to eat some humble pie, to be honest,” he said.
In Idaho, Venzke joined his first real estate company, Coldwell Banker. He said he earned several awards during his time there, but despite his success, he said the market was too small to sustain the number of agents working in the area.
It was while he was in Idaho clawing his way back up that he received a call from friend Jeff Terwilliger, asking him to move back to Jacksonville to help with Terwilliger’s new company, SVR Realty.
“We have the kind of relationship where we are not only friends, but loyal, trustworthy business partners,” Venzke said of his relationship with Terwilliger.
Venzke returned to the First Coast in April of last year to join SVR Realty, and currently runs the Ponte Vedra Beach office.
“Since then, Jacksonville Beach, Ponte Vedra has been nothing but a blessing,” he said. “Everything has turned around since I moved back.”
SVR Realty started out with three-to-four agents, and Venzke said the company has grown to 45-50 agents currently.
Venzke said the secret to SVR Realty’s success is creating a nurturing environment and building a team atmosphere, something he learned playing for Tom Coughlin when he was with the Jaguars.
“There’s a huge carryover,” he said. “Being on time, being punctual. Go the extra mile. Doing small things. Do your job the right way.”
Venzke also believes leaving egos at the door, maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment and building genuine, personal relationships with agents are key components to the company’s success.
“It goes back to leadership,” Venzke said. “Jeff [Terwilliger] tries to create a company culture where the benchmark is not how much volume is moved, but how much our agents are taken care of.”
With those dark days behind him, Venzke sees big things for the real estate market in Ponte Vedra.
“I think Ponte Vedra is gaining national prominence,” Venzke said. “It used to be more like a hidden secret. Nowadays, I talk to people in New York and Seattle, and they know about Ponte Vedra.
“People are flocking to Florida for the lifestyle, for the people, the ocean, the weather,” Venzke added. “Companies are moving to the Jacksonville area because the rent is affordable. It’s just a good pro-business environment.”