Known as the Gypsy of Real Estate, Marie-Laure Frère is unlike any other professional within the lucrative industry. She holds over 19 years of executive-level experience in the sales and business development of luxury urban high-rise development and resort sun & ski destinations, both nationally and internationally. Her direct involvement in projects has resulted in dozens of real estate sales launches and an excess of $3 billion in project sales. She has been licensed in 12 states, speaks four languages, and has sold real estate across the globe. Throughout her highly successful career, Marie-Laure has garnered extensive experience in a variety of real estate niches, including recruiting, and training —both onsite and remote sales teams - and working with developers from finance sourcing to the finer details of design and product mix to market analysis. Today, she is CEO of Indoors │Outdoors, a real estate consulting firm specializing in pre-construction sales and turnaround projects throughout Europe and the U.S. Marie-Laure recently sat down with The Top 100 Magazine to tell us more about her fascinating background, her unique approach to real estate, and the projects she has underway.
Let’s begin with your moniker. How did you come to be known as the Gypsy of Real Estate?
That name always makes me laugh - friends in the industry started calling me that, and it stuck. They would call and never know where they would reach me. And to be fair, though I am very comfortable in a pair of high-heels and a board room, I am known to be found fly fishing in a river or walking barefoot on a beach somewhere in the world well off the beaten path. Fortunately, the developers I have come to work with appreciate this side of me as my point of view on projects tends to be more global as opposed to singular. I travel a lot and have consulted on many projects, both virtually and face-to-face. I recognize quickly what is working but most importantly, what isn’t and won’t work.
What kind of work do you do with developers?
I’m often hired directly by developers to be the Director of Sales and, in essence, become the “face” of a project. I will manage everything from sales, marketing budgets, public relations to punch lists and final walkthroughs. Or, alternatively, I will be called to help with a specific need in a consulting facet. It’s impossible for me to be on every project, so it’s a great mix. I appreciate that every developer has a unique concept, every brand has their own culture and I help bring some of the most sought-after real estate to the market.
Tell us a bit more about your firm, Indoors | Outdoors.
I started Indoors│Outdoors in 2009 when the world of large developments came to a halt. At that time, I was brought on to help projects that were stalled in the marketplace. I was reviewing everything from reach strategies to working with sales teams on using effective language, shifting how they present their real estate to different marketplaces, and handling objections. For a while now, I have been more mobile, and I am found on-site with a singular development a lot more.
It sounds like you work in a lot of different areas. What is your specialty?
My personal passion is leading and building highly functional and successful sales teams or working with existing sales teams to understand where a pivot is needed. I love the challenge of finding ways to get a development’s sales to pick up speed. That’s why Indoors │Outdoors is known as an urban, resort, sun, and ski real estate sales consulting firm. Let’s face it, if you don’t have sales, it really doesn’t matter how special the marble countertops and wood floors a developer has picked are.
How did you get your start in the real estate industry?
I started in Public Relations for hotels & resorts with a company called Novom Marketing, Charlotte Novom still remains a great mentor of mine. From there, I moved to New York for a position with VOGUE. I worked with the most defining fashion brands and was exposed to the fashion world through a business eye. Understanding the specific language brands used, their advertising and reach strategy – it was fascinating. I was quite young and decided to leave the fashion world and moved to the Dominican Republic to teach Kite Surfing and then to Lake Tahoe and became a ski instructor. Everyone thought I was out of my mind but that side of me is actually what landed my real estate career. I was hired by a company called Intrawest and responsible for the commercial real estate at the base of their ski destinations, specifically The Village at Squaw Valley. I was then recruited to leave the commercial side by their residential real estate arm and started traveling from destination to destination. From there, it snowballed, and I was hired by various developers and sales & marketing companies throughout the U.S.
What other brands have you worked with over the course of your career?
I’ve been very fortunate—before the current project I am leading in Nashville, Four Seasons Private Residences Nashville, I was in Bermuda supporting the onsite sales team for Tucker’s Point, Rosewood Bermuda and their Harbor Court Private Residences. I have worked with developers who have partnered with Fairmont, Trump, Lowe Destination Hotels & Resorts, Four Seasons, you name it. There are a handful of unbranded residential developments I have helped, and I love those just as much. The bottom line is that I make developers a lot of money by selling their real estate, often over proforma. I am selective about the developments I choose as I have clients who follow me from projects to project, financial managers who call to get my take on real estate investment their clients are considering. My name is on those recommendations as well as the developments I partner with.
Didn’t you recently set a record in Nashville as well?
Yes! Just last year, my team at Four Seasons Private Residences Nashville set a record for the most real estate ever sold in Nashville—over $80 million in one day. We are on track for another successful sales launch this Spring 2021.
Those are incredible results! What is your secret to success?
I wish there was a secret! I’ll be honest, I don’t have the best work/life balance sometimes and I am often checking email at 2am. Frankly, I don’t see that as a bad thing, when I’m on, I’m on. I get plenty of downtime between projects.
I’ve never tried to fit in a box, which has helped me connect with a lot of different types of people on many different levels. I’m quite tender by nature but I am direct. It may sound cliché, but it’s about asking questions that matter. The most forgotten one is “Are you buying real estate?” It amazes me how “in the weeds” sales agents can get without asking the most basic questions first. Oh, and price per square foot is taboo on my sales teams as it’s truly and completely irrelevant.
Since we’ve been focusing on business, let’s end with some interesting facts about your life outside of real estate. What can you tell us about yourself?
i was raised in Paris, France, and a very small town south near Fontainbleau where my grandmother lived. My aunt and uncle still live there. I played in fields or hay mounds all day - my uncle had a Friesian named Oscar who we would hitch to beautiful antique carts and take into town. Looking back, it was simple, but idyllic. I volunteer with a couple of different organizations that teach children with special needs how to surf and have worked with an amazing international au pair agency that places specialized au pairs with families who have children with special needs. But I can just as easily sit on a porch for hours and watch absolutely nothing and just have a great conversation.
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