Global Team Leader

A trip is when you go to the grocery store to buy milk on a Wednesday.  A trip is to Cancun because you won the sales award for the third quarter of last year and your company knows there’s nothing more rewarding than four days and three nights in a beachfront tower a short sweaty shuttle ride from the airport. But a journey? That is something different. And that’s what I’ve been on. A journey.  A long and painful journey filled with bumps and twists and u-turns on roundabouts that I navigate more slowly than I should, that’s the sort, and that’s what I’ve been on.  This journey has brought me here. 

It all started when I wanted to buy a house in Saint Tropez. More accurately, in the hills surrounding that famous seaside city. I was interested in real estate in this place so naturally I flew to Zurich to find a real estate agency that could help me. I asked Karl, the real estate agent who was sitting at the desk nearest the front door, for some details on the market in Saint Tropez. He told me that he was the seventh top producing agent on the largest team in greater Europe, and that he sells real estate from Saint Moritz to Saint Sebastian, and all points in between. I had no idea where Saint Sebastian was, but it sounded like a nice place. I asked him about a house I had seen online, a pretty hillside house near the town but up hill a ways, in a private enclave ironically known as Saint Anglais, even though I read that the locals call it something worse. Karl then told me about the wide reach of his website, a truly global site indeed that could be accessed not only from Saint Moritz, but from Saint Sebastian and, if the connection was right, from Lake Geneva. The Wisconsin one. I was still curious about the house on the hill when he told me more about his connections with the banking elite in Dubai, many of whom frequent Chamonix, where Karl’s team was just about to open an office. He showed me the pictures of his office on a large screen that filled nearly a full wall in his private conference room.  As I looked over the floor plan of his not yet built office in a town in France of which I’ve never been, I asked if the hilltop house in Saint Anglais had internet service, or if I had to wait for Starlink. He offered me an espresso with chocolate, each square adorned with the interwoven initials of the woman who founded his team. I unwrapped a chocolate as Karl told me about this founder and her acheivements, each one more impressive than the next. An office in Beverly Hills would be opening after Chamonix, Karl boasted. The chocolates tasted waxy to me.

I washed down the chocolate with the espresso, pronounced eXpresso here, and asked again if he thought the seller of this hillside home might be willing to strike a deal.  After all, the house had been on the market for seven weeks. Just seven weeks?! Karl’s voice dripped thick with mockery. Why that’s hardly any time at all! But the market has already ruled on the price, I said. The pricing is wrong, I suggested. Had it not been wrong the house would have sold quickly to the buyers who were interested in living on the hill, I insisted. I asked if he knew the owners and why they were selling. Did someone die?  Karl walked his empty cup to the small espresso machine, pulled a single shot, turned to me, raised his shoulders and sighed. Had I heard about the new software that his team founder just licensed? It would allow me to search for any parameter I wished. How fabulous would that be, he prodded, seemingly unaware that Zillow and dozens of other sites already do just that.  He said if I were to set up a profile today (it was free, after all) he’d be able to send me new listings in Saint Tropez and Saint Sebastian, and again he referenced without detail, “and all of the towns in between”. That hillside house would be in this list, he promised. 

But I was curious about the neighbors, and so I asked if they generally lived there full time or only in the season. And what of that season, is it June through August as I had read once or is April as divine as the end of October? And if people in the 1960s only visited in the winter months, why is it now only a summer destination? What changed along the way? Karl quietly rubbed the small handle on his small espresso cup between his index finger and thumb and looked to the wall behind where I was sitting, pensively formed a few words in his mind that made their way to his face, and asked me if I’d ever been to Lipensteinch, which he assured me was a town that was under the radar, both that of the Luftwaffe and of the modern buyers.  He expected me to acknowledge his clever phrasing, but I decided against it. I just shook my head. He said that would be a place I might like to visit because they have hills as high as mountains and the sea runs clear and cold, so clear and so cold that the locals live, on average, to be nearly 91 years old.  We don’t have an office there, Karl said, but one of his team members has a summer home there and if I’d like to tour some listings I could plan to see those with her sometime after the third Saturday of this coming July.  She’s licensed there, and here, and most of the points in between. But not Saint Tropez, he said, because his founder personally works that market and if I had any interest in setting up some showings her assistant Candy would be able to meet me sometime for drinks.   Rose, all day, he said. But I don’t drink and Karl said that might be a problem.

Karl, I said with my voice firming, I need some actual answers here. I want the details on this house, the one on the hillside, the one you said your global team could help with. I’ve been in here for twenty minutes now and it seems to me that you don’t actually know this market, not one bit. Karl leaned forward in his chair and reached with his left hand towards the middle drawer in his desk where he fidgeted about before finally returning his hand to the desk where he satisfactorily set a shiny brochure. The brochure was beautiful, admittedly, with the initials of the team leader in the upper corner and a photo of the woman herself in the bottom right. Her hair was blowing in a summer breeze, her face bright with sunshine and a smile that begged you to trust her. Is this the brochure for the house on the hill? I wondered, so I asked. Karl settled further back into his chair and asked me to take a look. Specifically to page 8, he said. I thumbed through the thick glossy pages before landing on page 8. I glanced to the page and back to Karl, his eyes excited and his face smug. A Kick Off Party To Your Summer In Saint Tropez, the page read. Rose and Red Carpets, the subtitle promised. I closed the brochure and reminded Karl that I don’t drink and that I was really only there to ask if he knew what the taxes on the hillside house might be once the sale closes somewhere less than the asking price. He asked if I could use another espresso, because he was getting one too and he’d gladly pull an extra shot for me.

About the Author

I'm David Curry. I write this blog to educate and entertain those who subscribe to the theory that Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is indeed the center of the real estate universe. When I started selling real estate 27 years ago I did so of a desire to one day dominate the activity in the Lake Geneva vacation home market. With over $700,000,000 in sales since January of 2010, that goal is within reach. If I can help you with your Lake Geneva real estate needs, please consider me at your service. Thanks for reading.

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