|Anne Basaldella||Sébastien Perquin-Georges|
(An unpublished article written in 2010 that explains what's special about us)
PARIS REAL ESTATE: A DIFFERENT APPROACH
'Real Estate as Fine Art' is how Philippe Menager and Nicolas Hug describe their profession. After working for many years in the art market they decided to apply their insight to a domain more central to people's lives.
As many prospective buyers discover, attempting to purchase an apartment or house in Paris is a challenging experience. Unlike other countries that have a well-organized real estate market with multiple listing and a sole-agent system, finding a property in Paris requires going from one broker to another, many of whom have the same apartments on their books, often at different prices and with inaccurate descriptions, without the certainty that they will a) take due notice of your requests and not merely show what is in haste to sell; b) communicate and write in competent English; c) notify you if anything suitable comes up for sale; d) have a good rapport with other brokers for them to provide appropriate listings and agree to share fees.
As in many other areas in France, in order to get what you want you need the right connections, and finding a suitable apartment is mostly a matter of meeting or being introduced to the right person with a sense of service usually foreign to the French way of doing business. Philippe Menager and Nicolas Hug, the owners of a small high-end company that has been active for the past 20 years, have the knowledge, expertise and sensibility that make the process of finding and acquiring a property an easy one.
First of all they operate largely by reference, which means that since most of their clients come to them because they have been recommended by a former client, architect, lawyer, interior designer, art dealer or other mutual contact, Menager & Hug offer only the high-quality, custom service that will earn them the continued trust that these long-standing connections put in them.
Secondly, on account of their international upbringing, academic qualifications and social networks (Menager, a former Paris University lecturer, has dual, British/French nationality; Hug is Swiss, a former art historian and exceptionally well-connected internationally) Philippe and Nicolas are well-equipped to deal with the specific requests of discriminating clients from various parts of the world and able to relate to their diverse personal circumstances.
Thirdly, both partners have an artistic background. Upon meeting they had both had experience in selling art, and for 8 years together ran an exclusive modern design gallery as an adjacent activity to the real estate business. From the inception of their partnership they decided that a property could be sold like a work of art provided it was in some way unique, not known to all and thus collectible. They called their concept 'Immobilier de Collection' ('Real Estate as Fine Art') and have since been spending most of their time seeking out, with their discerning eye and sensibility, places large or small but with an exceptional quality that warrants a place on their books.
This policy has enabled them over the years to handle many of the finest Paris properties and serve as many international clients of high standing with whom they frequently develop close relationships that survive long after the deal has been completed. Among the properties currently on offer with their company are, to quote a few:
- the former residence of famed couturier and art collector Yves Saint Laurent, a 5,600 sq.-ft. duplex opening onto a private 4,700 sq.-ft. garden in the elegant 7th arrondissement;
- a unique, 17th-century, 18,500 sq.-ft. hôtel particulier in the Marais, a listed historic monument;
- a 2,100 sq.-ft. high-ceilinged apartment on the Quai Voltaire, overlooking the river;
- a 3,300 sq.-ft. duplex with an exceptional 1,500 sq.-ft. terrace overlooking a private garden in an 18th-century building of Saint-Germain-des-Prés;
- or the former house and workplace of artist Hans Hartung and his wife, a modernist masterpiece composed of two spectacular artist's studios each with 20-ft. ceilings.
But many smaller, more modest properties also pass the test as long as they have a distinctive charm or character, as do rentals.
Menager and Hug work in collaboration with a small number of carefully selected architects and interior designers for those clients who want a property in move-in condition, as was recently the case with a Bulgarian couple who bought a 4,300 sq.-ft. pied-à-terre overlooking the Seine and the Concorde square complete with the cutlery. "We want not just an apartment, but a concept", they said.
"We love our job", comment Philippe and Nicolas, "the thrill of matching people and places, the joy of finding the right setting which will help make a person's life a happier one - for a few years or a lifetime".