Bruno Couturier moved from France to the U.S. in 1985 and found his calling in the country club business. After nearly 30 years working at Marsh Landing Country Club, including serving as general manager and currently, as partner, Couturier began a new venture in real estate in January of this year, becoming a broker for March Landing Country Club Realty. Couturier, who lives in Marsh Landing with his wife and two teenage sons, shares his experience in the business.
As told to Paris Moulden
Can you tell us about your background?
I grew up in France and moved to the states in 1985. I’ve been in the club business since then. In 2001, the owner of the [Marsh Landing Country] club, Chester Stokes, and his business partner Jesse Killebrew, who is the broker of the company, the three of us started this real estate company and it has been extremely successful. I decided in January that it was time for me to hang up my hat as the general manager of Marsh Landing after almost 30 years of service. I’ve always wanted to go into real estate and the timing was right. We have a great team, and I just thought, “Let’s go ahead and do it.” ... I worked at a club outside of Austin, Texas called Horseshoe Bay Resort. I worked there from 1985 to 1991. In between, I served in the Army in France. As soon as I stopped serving, I came back to Horseshoe Bay and that’s where I met Mr. Stokes, who owned a club outside of Austin called Hidden Hills on Lake Travis. In ’91, I moved here. ... I got married in 2003 and became a U.S. citizen and I’ve been her ever since.
What is it about real estate that you enjoy?
I’ve built a lot of relationships over the years with a lot of the members and residents here. Thirty years is a long time, I also have two young children, and I think that real estate is something that will give me the opportunity to earn a living but also spend time with my family. Since 2001, real estate was something I was always around because that’s what we did in Marsh Landing.
What sets your agency apart?
What’s unique about our company is our association with the club. When somebody buys or sells with us, they get a membership at the club at the level they desire with no initiation fee. So that’s been a huge draw for us. We’ve got a great team. And the thing about Marsh Landing Country Club, it’s just the location. You’re at the beach. You don’t have to fight A1A and the traffic, As a resident here, you can drive right through TPC. ... And you can jump on JTB in a minute and go anywhere you want to go. ... It’s just all about location.
What types of amenities do Marsh Landing offer?
We have 18 holes of golf. We have 10 tennis courts. a swimming pool, a fitness center. We’re opened six days a week for dining. We have very successful programs for juniors from tennis to golf. Summer camps. The staff just does an amazing job. It’s a family club.
In your experience, has the market changed since the COVID-19 crisis?
We did experience a little bit of a slowdown at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, but I’ll tell you, our business the last month has picked up so much. It’s been amazing. Real estate is definitely back.
How does the market in Ponte Vedra differ from other places?
I think people look for a lifestyle. I think people look for environment, location. I think people who have children look for great schools. Ponte Vedra has all of that to offer to people who move here,
What advice would you give to potential buyers, particularly in this market?
If people are looking in this market, they obviously have a price range in mind, I think people need to determine what it is they’re looking for. For example, this is a golf course community with a country club. I think that if people are moving to Marsh Landing, they should be looking for these kind of amenities, but also committed to supporting the club, because it is part of the environment and lifestyle they’re going to experience here. This club here creates value for real estate, and as you can see around the country, country club that go out of business in private communities is affecting the real estate price of the homes. ... So, I think when people move into a community like this, they have to not just commit to buying in here, but also being a part of the club, because it affects the value of the home.
What do you like most about this area?
First, the people. Secondly, the location; access to the beach, being able to play golf, tennis. Being able to go to Jaguars games. Being able to go to concerts downtown. There’s just so much to do around here. And the dining around here is unbelievable, the options we have. Last year. I took my family to New York City, and this is nothing like New York. The life out here is so laid-back, so relaxed, so enjoyable. What is there not to like?
What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy handyman work. It seems like the list never ends, but I love it. I do it on my own time. ... And if I don’t know how to do it. I’ll talk to somebody who does know how to do it, pick their brains, and I’ll just go do it. It’s something I do because it releases it stress and when the work is done, you look at it, and it’s rewarding just to know you did it.