'Scoring the Deal' finds homes for athletes

Jason Abrams, star of the upcoming HGTV reality show "Scoring the Deal," knew his job would make great television. Hollywood performers and pro athletes who had been real-estate clients told him so. He just didn’t think he had the time for it.

Abrams says that changed when he started seeing more stories about financial predators orbiting the world of pro athletes. He watched "Broke," the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary examining the financial problems many athletes face in retirement, and realized that letting a television crew follow him around might not be a bad thing.

“I thought maybe a show about what I do could help educate people,” Abrams says. “Guys get close to retirement, and thanks to trades and free agency, they have five houses in five cities. It’s like dying from the common cold. All the numbers add up. What are they going to do with all these houses they own?”

"Scoring the Deal" premieres Jan. 8 at 11 p.m. ET on HGTV. Each half-hour episode provides an inside look at Abrams’ real-estate dealings with current and former professional athletes, including Clinton Portis and Vernon and Vontae Davis.

The series shows Abrams counseling his clients to be practical.

“Young athletes should be renting that first year,” he says. “You can’t just rush out and buy houses.”

On the other hand, the rental properties Abrams shows the athletes are better than anything most of us could hope for -- breathtaking condos with waterfront or skyline views. And athletes’ requests can be a little risque.

“For the first time in all my years at looking at shows for HGTV, I’ve actually had to pull out shots because of talk about stripper poles,” says the network's general manager Kathleen Finch with a laugh.

Each of the six episodes HGTV has in the can moves at a quick pace, thanks to Abrams’ frenetic schedule.

“I was on the road more than 309 days last year, and I’ll probably break that record this year,” he says. “It’s important for me to see, feel and touch all the deals.”

Abrams says he has just 48 hours to find homes for many of his clients, many of whom have to pick up and move abruptly after a trade or signing. Abrams and his business partner, Kristen Cook, spend the first 24 hours in a city scouting every property in the athlete’s price range. They choose the three to five best based on the athlete’s wants and needs.

“We pick up the athlete the next morning and take him to the properties we chose,” says Abrams. “Nine times out of 10, they pick one because they know I’ve taken out all the guesswork for them.”

Finch says "Scoring the Deal" is like HGTV’s top two real-estate shows, "House Hunters" and "House Hunters International," because viewers get voyeuristic looks at homes and condos. There is also suspense over which place the athlete will pick. The budgets Abrams works with, however, are much higher.

“It’s an absolute fantasy to be this guy who has so much money to spend and is just so nonchalant about the whole thing,” says Finch. “Most of us dream about not having to worry about our mortgage.”

Let alone scoring a touchdown.