The New York Minute

Interview Series: Fascinating Engel & Völkers Colleagues from Around the World

Marc Berresheim

Paul & Vince would like to welcome to the conversation Marc Berresheim from Engel & Völkers Frankfurt, Germany.
We flew back and forth to New York for about two years, then posted in Islamabad for two years, and in Nairobi and Guatemala City for another four years. I had a business card from the Swedish government that had my occupation listed as “diplomatic spouse”… People would say congratulations like it was a promotion! [Laughs.]

Marc Berresheim was born and raised in Frankfurt to parents he describes as wonderfully liberal and creative. His father’s job as a music producer in the 1980s meant crossing paths with some big personalities among his father’s clients, such as Ozzy Osbourne, Toto, and the Electric Light Orchestra (E.L.O.).

With a lifelong passion for all things creative himself, Marc studied graphic design at university in Cologne. After graduating in 2006, he worked as a graphic designer for several years while traveling internationally. Returning to Frankfurt in 2012, he made the leap into real estate with Grüneberg Property Investments.

He joined Engel & Völkers in 2017 as an advisor selling single-family homes but steadily moved into luxury condo development and sales. Today, he is well-known in Frankfurt for his ongoing sales and marketing direction of One Forty West, a super-luxury high-rise tower boasting 187 residential units, an upmarket hotel and a selection of upscale restaurants. He is currently the lead for E&V Frankfurt’s Development Services Department.


Paul & Vince: What is great about living and working in Frankfurt?

Marc: Frankfurt is a big, modern city, but not so large that it’s unpleasant or pressured. You can drive your car twenty minutes out of the Central Business District and be up in the forest. We also have great diversity for a city of our size. There is a large Turkish population in Frankfurt, for example, and a large proportion of international residents. Our food choices are huge because of this—and, I mean, you can have fancy places, but I always recommend the family-run businesses with Jewish and Turkish influence.

We have history, too. Did you know, for example, that Frankfurt was always the place where the Holy Roman Emperor was crowned? Many people don’t think of us as old because so much was demolished in the second world war, but we recently finished reconstructing our Old Town. Some Frankfurters complain it’s like a Disneyland. But it was rebuilt carefully with traditional methods, so even though it’s new, it is authentic to the city’s history.

There are also beautiful redevelopments in what used to be run-down neighborhoods, like Bahnhofsviertel, the area near our main train station. You couldn’t even go there in the 1980s because of prostitution, drugs, and street crime. Now it’s been transformed into the coolest place in the city, with shops and green markets during the day and restaurants and clubs at night. I like to joke “Now, the prostitutes and bankers can be seen together at the same bar having a good time.” [Laughs] Sorry, can I say that?

Paul & Vince: You just did!


Paul & Vince: What did you do before you came into real estate?

Marc: Well, I studied graphic design, but my father wasn’t willing to pay the tuition fees for private university—he told me if I wanted to go, I’d better work for it. [Laughs.] So I figured out that if I worked in real estate very part-time and rented out just one apartment every three months, I’d have enough to pay the tuition fees for that semester! So I did, which was my very first early experience in the real estate business.

Then after university, I was a graphic designer for a while and worked remotely—years before, I think, anyone was doing that kind of thing. Then I moved, because I was married to a Swedish diplomat. We met when he was at the Swedish consulate here—then next thing, we flew back and forth to New York for about two years, then posted in Islamabad for two years, and in Nairobi and Guatemala City for another four years. I actually had a business card from the Swedish government that had my occupation listed as “diplomatic spouse”—and in Germany, people were impressed with that. I’d say, “I’m a diplomatic spouse,” People would say congratulations like it was a promotion! [Laughs.]

But being a same-sex diplomatic couple can be complicated, depending on where you’re living. In Kenya, I was presented as my husband’s “assistant.” And in Islamabad I was “the chef,” even though we had a full-time cook. The places we lived were really interesting, but after about ten years of moving around and being careful, I felt like I was living someone else’s life and couldn’t do it anymore. So I contacted one of my clients in real estate back in Germany and said, “Look, I’ve been doing all these marketing materials for you—can I give real estate a try? Can I be an agent?” And he said sure, so I flew back to Frankfurt and started immediately.

Paul & Vince: Wow. Such an interesting background!

Marc: Yes, but I think we all start from crazy adventures like this before we come to real estate, and then it makes real estate seem like it’s the more normal, less crazy place to be, right? [Laughs.]


Paul & Vince: What are you seeing in Frankfurt’s real estate market these days?

Marc: The biggest challenge is extremely high demand throughout all of Germany. We don’t have the appropriate properties to meet that demand, so we have difficulty bringing buyers and sellers together. Sellers expect a price above anything reasonable, so my job has been to prove to them why their property isn’t worth what they expect. On the buyer side, mostly it’s families getting their new homes, so it’s all very fraught with emotions—and sometimes they’re close to exploding. So it can be hard to say the right things to the buyer.

To be honest, I’m concerned that this type of market will pose some obstacles in the future; there’s no bursting of this bubble yet that we can see. I don’t know if you saw the new UBS [Swiss Bank] report called “Global Real Estate Bubble” that ranks world cities. According to that report, Frankfurt, unfortunately, is the number-one most likely place to experience a bubble burst, meaning it’s the most overpriced city in the world right now.


Paul & Vince: And what do you like most about your career in real estate?

Marc: Well, I’m interested in how large-scale design plays out in the built environment—both in older, traditional forms and newer, modern forms. I’ve been very fortunate to work with new-development high-rise buildings here in Frankfurt, especially with my current project, One Forty West, a mixed-use building.

It’s an exciting time because Frankfurt plays a pioneering role in high-rise development in Germany, partly because we don’t have a height cap for buildings here as they do in cities like Munich. We say that “Frankfurt is the only German city that has an actual skyline,” and because the city’s full name is “Frankfurt am Main” [on the River Main], we’ve started calling our little high-rise district “Main-hattan.” [Laughs.]

We even purposefully gave One Forty West a New York-sounding name, and it has a hybrid, mixed-use setup that’s new here but more common in the US. From the ground floor to the 23rd floor, it’s a hotel; above that, it’s private residences. It also stands out because many high-rises here have no balconies—but this one does; it has 3.8 kilometers of balconies. And we saw during the pandemic how sought-after balconies can be!

…and one more, Just For Fun

Paul & Vince: Okay, Marc, now it’s time for your Just For Fun question. If you could have a new Olympics sport added–any event at all–in which you know you’d be able to win a gold medal, what would you choose and why?

Marc: Hmm…maybe something to do with cutting? Because let me tell you, I am good at cutting things. I like to cut shapes! When I was a kid, my father even let me cut potato stencils to decorate the walls in my room. He kept the walls like that, and they were still there when I came back from university, so they must have looked good to him. Do you call them potato stamps in English? In German, we call them “Kartoffeldruck.”

But these days, I can still get caught up in cutting the perfect vegetable, which bothers my family. We get together for dinners, and I make everyone wait while discarding and cutting up a new tray of carrots and peppers until they’re perfect.

Paul & Vince: So far, it sounds like your Olympic sport will be “cutting edge!”

Marc: Well, you know, I’m also good at origami. I catch myself folding things sometimes without even looking. Even on Zoom meetings for business, I forget that people can see me on the screen, and I’ll do all this origami with my hands out of sight, and someone will say, “Marc, would you like to show us what you’re doing?” and I’m like “Look, I made a bird!” [Laughs.]

And then, maybe, some collecting…

Paul & Vince: Oh, this sport has three parts? Cutting, folding, collecting: it’s a triathlon event?

Marc:…For the medal, yes, why not? [Laughs.]

Since I was a child, I’ve kept every greeting card from my birthdays. I keep them in nice boxes that I take down from a shelf occasionally to look at. It’s about the memories they trigger—the variety of cards, the beautiful words, the handwriting, the wishes, and the dreams… All of it inspires me, particularly in tough times, and I can remember who I was and where I was in life when each card came to me. My good friends, all of them, still send me paper greeting cards on my birthday.

Paul & Vince: That’s wonderful! And when exactly is your birthday?

Marc: August the 2nd!

Paul & Vince: Maybe everyone reading this should send Marc a birthday card on August 2nd?

Marc: That would be unbelievable! [Laughs]…but…yes, please, yes!

Original artwork by Jolisa Robinson, Gavriani-Falcone Team Marketing

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