One of the stars of a new Netflix show shares their secrets to success.
What started out as Sandrine Kretz’s act of kindness as a teacher to parents looking for an apartment in Paris has now become a reputable independent luxury real estate agency, Kretz and Partners.
Sandrine, along with husband of 38 years, Olivier, and their three sons, Martin, Valentin, and Louis, operate it as a family. The youngest, Raphael, though still in school, is likely to join soon. Next door is Majo, the grandmother who loves to check in on the family. Collectively, they star in a new Netflix series.
Called The Parisian Agency: Exclusive Properties, the show features their experiences in helping clients buy and sell fabulous homes in France. In just over a decade, the family has established its success in luxury real estate.
So, what is the Kretz family doing right for their business? Valentin tells us.
Know the place
As majorityof its deals are within France, Valentin says it’s been helpful to know it by heart. It doesn’t come as much of a challenge as the whole family was born and raised in the country where they operate.
“I think the huge value of France is that it’s a country of history. The wars did not destroy a lot of the properties we have here,” he tells Lifestyle Asia. “That’s why we have a huge number of properties in different architectural styles and buildings even from centuries ago, which makes it a great place.”
From 15th century chapels or castles to brand new spaces, France is a dream come true for luxury property seekers. Despite being a small country, too, the country is “rich geographically.”
“We have mountains. We have seas. We have lakes. You can experience all that from Paris to the South of France,” he says. “It could be a mountain lodge, a beach house, or a flat in Paris. [All of it] is accessible for everyone.”
More than the property itself, though, Valentin says they also do their best to get to know the story behind it, something that foreigners find especially attractive.
“Every day it’s a different call and we get to know a new story,” he adds. “When we look at the archive of a property, we see the amazing people that used to live there, or the books where we can read it, or the movies where we can see it.”
Working with family has no disadvantages for Valentin. In fact, it has benefitted the family in more ways than one.
“It’s great because we totally agree on what we want to do, how we want to develop the company, and who we want to work with, so most of the time, it’s easy,” he says. In the rare cases that they have a disagreement, Valentin says having five in the family to vote helps them make a decision by majority.
Valentin also attributes the success of Kretz and Partners to how the family communicates and works as a team.
“Our parents tell us to be truthful and so we are confident. We can tell them anything we feel like. There is no secret in the family. In that aspect, it’s really an advantage because the information moves so fast, [whether] for work or family,” he explains. “Individually, we have different skills, too.”
The series shows this: Sandrine and Olivier are at the helm; Martin, the eldest, is the negotiator and handler of complicated projects; Valentin is involved in multiple projects and has established connections that turn into clients; and Louis, the latest to join the company, officially works as the community manager.
‘Keeping the DNA’
In the first few minutes of The Parisian Agency, Sandrine reveals just how much work it takes to keep Kretz and Properties running.
“The thing about our agency is that we’re available 24/7,” she says. “There’s always one available for viewings or looking for a place.”
But with a growing business, Valentin says it’s only natural to “extend the family.”
“We have 30 agents working with us,” he reveals, adding that a big part of his job now is coaching the brokers. “We want our agents to keep our DNA so that when clients call us, even if no one among the Kretzs is available, I want to be able to send an agent that makes them feel like part of the extended family is with them.”
He also values the input of his agents, recognizing that decision-making on every aspect of the business could be too much for a small family.
“We are very aware of what they can do, the advice they can give, and tips to develop the company,” he says. “We have to know what’s going on out there and listen to people because on our own, we cannot develop. We also have to take advice from the outside.”
The COVID-2019 pandemic has been difficult for everybody. The Kretz family is no exception.
The first lockdown in March 2020, which was three months long, was the most challenging for Valentin and his family.
“Notaries were not used to working from home and they did not have their systems with them so they could not sign at all,” he says. “Because of that, the real estate market in France completely stopped. [We made] zero in sales.”
French real estate is dependent on notaries. They are called lawyers in the US.
As soon as notaries figured out a way to process documents from home, the Kretz family, who stayed patient and hopeful despite the uncertainty of the situation and losses, immediately went back to work.
Up to date
That work has paid off. Observing what clients have been looking for and providing it to them has yielded good results.
“People had a lot of time to think about what they really wanted during the lockdown. They realized that everything can stop so fast just like that, so they pursued what they’ve been wanting to do for years,” Valentin explains. “It was amazing for real estate after the first lockdown because with people’s pursuits, they wanted to sell and buy properties.”
Despite the prices of properties, which has significantly skyrocketed, the company has sold a lot of apartments just around Paris, where there’s more green space, as well as properties with gardens and outdoor spaces.
“Not only in Paris, too, but also in the beach cities of France,” he adds. “People really wanted to move and get more outdoor space. It was a boom market during the nine months after the first lockdown.”
For Valentin, the job that they do is personal not just because it concerns their family business, but also because it concerns the lives of their clients.
“When people who come to us want to sell or buy properties, it’s like they’re giving us their family project,” he says. “They’ll explain to us why and how they came here, as well as how they arrived at that point. Within 30 minutes, we are included in their personal project.
The weight of this responsibility makes Valentin and the rest of his family want to do well in making the project happen—and work on many more.
“When you think you’ve seen it all, there will always be new places, new people, and new stories,” he says. “It’s never boring in that way, especially when you do it with your own family and share the stories with them.”
The family will be sharing more of these stories to the fans of the series as the show has been renewed for a second season which, according to Valentin, has just finished filming.
“We are trying to show different areas of France so people can discover the variety of landscapes here,” he says. “The show is going to be released on Netflix hopefully before 2022.